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May 13, 2004



UPDATE: On May 29, Joanna Simonis won a bronze medal in the NCAA Division III championship. Click here for the full story.

Leslie Kurke
Joy Racowski '05, Joanna Simonis '05, Mali Petherbridge '04 and Melissa Leedle '05, the Bryn Mawr 4 x 800 relay team, at the Centennial Conference championships

Bryn Mawr juniors Joanna Simonis and Melissa Leedle have both run qualifying times for the NCAA Division III National Track & Field Championships, the first time in Bryn Mawr's team history that two women have achieved national standards in their events. Simonis, Leedle and senior Mali Petherbridge, who won this year's Anne Lee Delano Award as Bryn Mawr's top scholar-athlete, have led the track team in a stellar season, says Coach Dan Talbot.

Simonis, whose specialty is the 800-meter run, and Leedle, who runs the 3,000-meter steeplechase, have both run provisional qualifying times for the Division III national championships. Actually competing in the national championship meet requires one more step, since there are fewer openings than there are runners who have posted qualifying times. Usually the top 18 runners are accepted, says Talbot, and the roster is finalized just a few days before the championships take place. Simonis, who became the first Bryn Mawr runner ever to compete in an NCAA championship last year, will continue to run in meets in an effort to qualify for nationals, which will take place in Decatur, Ill., May 27-29; Leedle plans to take a rest and then begin training for the cross-country season next fall.

On April 22, Leedle became the first member of Bryn Mawr's team to compete in an individual event at the Penn Relays. The Penn Relays, the oldest, largest and most prestigious track and field meet in the United States, have been held annually for the last 110 years at the University of Pennsylvania. She ran an excellent race, finishing 13th in a personal best and school record 11:21.68, which is currently the 21st best time in NCAA Division III. A Bryn Mawr 4 x 400 relay team consisting of Petherbridge, Joy Racowski '05, Anna Tomasulo '07 and Simonis also competed in the Penn Relays; each member of the team ran her fastest split of the year en route to a 4:12.33, fifth best in team history.

Co-captain Petherbridge has been a great leader and a key member of the team for the past three years, Talbot says. She is in the top three on Bryn Mawr's all-time list in four events (200, 400, 800 and 1,500 meters) and was a key runner on seven school-record relay teams. "Mali just gets it done," says Talbot. "She has had a great career here. We're proud to have had her on the team, and we'll really miss her next year."

On May 10, the Owls competed in the Tuppeny Twilight Meet at Villanova, where Simonis captured second place in the 800 meters and brought her time down to 2:15.47, currently the 13th fastest time in Division III. Petherbridge won her heat of the 800 with a personal best 2:19.72. Both runners hope to post their fastest times yet when they compete in the Seamus McElligott Invitational at Haverford on Friday, May 14.

"We know Joanna can run fast enough to leave no doubt about qualifying for the Nationals," says Talbot. "Her workouts have been outstanding, and she's run a great time in a relay." At the Centennial Conference championships on May 1, Simonis ran a blazing 2:12.9 anchor leg in a dramatic 4 x 800 relay. Her time would be the 4th fastest in Division III this year, but relay splits don't count in qualifying for individual races.

To check on Simonis' progress toward nationals (and other up-to-the minute sports news), see the Athletics page.

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