COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – Catherine Buczek made history as the first 400-meter hurdles champion in Ursinus College women's track and field history as the Bears concluded the Centennial Conference outdoor championship at Patterson Field on Sunday.
Buczek came in as a heavy favorite in her top event and lived up to the hype, lowering her personal best by almost two-thirds of a second in a dominant performance. She closed strong, fending off a challenge from Gettysburg's Sarah Congdon to claim the top prize in 1:02.97, which trimmed .65 seconds off her former PR from last week's Penn Relays and elevated her into 25th in Division III.
Ursinus added a pair of silver medal relays and five other places to finish in seventh in the team standings with 60.5 points, its highest total in three years.
Johns Hopkins continued its reign over the CC with its ninth straight conference title, nearly doubling second-place Haverford with 237.5 points. The Fords earned 121.5 and were followed by Dickinson (95.5), Gettysburg (90), Haverford (81), Franklin & Marshall (68), Ursinus (60.5), Bryn Mawr (52.5), Muhlenberg (39.5), and McDaniel (12).
Buczek also led off for the second-place 4x400-meter relay squad, which closed the championship with a thrilling effort that landed just behind Dickinson for gold. Buczek handed off to senior Jenna Kelly with a lead, and Kelly kept it for freshman Rachel Coleman, who lost the advantage briefly before gaining it back around the turn. Senior Katherine Damato was the final leg of the Bears' unit, maintaining control for much of the final lap before an impressive closing kick by the Red Devils' anchor – who registered the best split of the race – denied Ursinus a chance at its first-ever gold medal in the event. Instead, the Bears were happy to snag a second consecutive silver at the outdoor meet.
The 4x100-meter relay team of Speranza, Buczek, sophomore Kira Miller, and Coleman got the Bears off to an electrifying start, as Coleman closed hard to give the Bears a silver medal with a time of 50.24. It was the first medal in the event for Ursinus since a runner-up showing in 2015, a unit of which Buczek was also a part.
Junior Mikaela Bordonaro, last year's bronze medalist in the javelin, placed fifth in the event with a mark of 111-3.00, which came on her third try. Freshman Vikki Rueda-Juarez wound up in 10th (88-7.00) and classmate Shelsea Deravil was 12th with a PR of nearly five feet (82-7.00).
Junior Caroline Buckley also produced a fifth-place performance, hers coming in the triple jump. Buckley's first leap was good for 33-9.50, her best of the day. Buckley now owns three career outdoor places in the triple jump, having finished sixth in 2016 before a silver medal effort a year ago; she was also second in the triple at the indoor championship.
Speranza finished seventh in the 100-meter hurdles, crossing the line in 13.22, and placed eighth in the 200-meter dash with a personal-best 26.99.
Miller captured her first career outdoor place by taking eighth in the 100-meter hurdles final.
Sophomore Sophia Simoes notched her first career outdoor place in the shot put, taking eighth overall with a mark of 36-10.25.