Kim Bowles at PSU

First year cross-country runner Kim Bowles earned three "Rookie of the Week" awards in the Little East Conference (LEC) for her cross-country running exploits at Plymouth State University. (COURTESY PHOTO)

It was a fall to be remembered by many ex-Raider and ex-Eagle varsity athletes who moved on to participate and often excel in their chosen sports during autumn of 2018. Aside from 19 athletes highlighted in prior Sun features, a final three athletes competed at the varsity collegiate level: First-year cross-country runner Kim Bowles, KHS '18, earned three "Rookie of the Week" awards in the Little East Conference (LEC) for her cross-country running exploits at Plymouth State University, ex-Raider Irina Norkin was the No. 2 runner for the University of Maine at Presque Isle cross-country, and Noah Hart of Fryeburg earned a roster spot on the State University of New York at Purchase varsity soccer team.

Bowles, of Wonalancet, was hardly phased by the jump to collegiate competition, as she was the Panthers first finisher in all but one race in the entire season. In her first collegiate meet, Bowles won the Charger Classic race when Panthers swept the podium at Colby-Sawyer on September 10. Bowles time of 20:43 held off a teammate, senior Haley Dennis, by three seconds, as the Panthers cruised to victory in the three-team meet.

The following week, Bowles broke the 20 minute barrier for a 5k race for the first time in her career, finishing in 19:54, good for 54th place of over 300 runners at the Corsair Classic at U.Mass-Dartmouth. The Panthers team finished 19th of 45 teams, their best team finish ever in that race.

Bowles continued with consistent running throughout the regular season races. The Panthers compiled a .667 team winning percentage in their Division III races.

At the LEC Championships on October 27, held at the campus of Bryant University in Smithfield, RI, Bowles again led the Panthers, finishing 13th with a time of 20:54; her finish was the highest ever for a freshman PSU runner at the LEC championships, where the Panthers earned fourth place of nine teams overall. Keene State took team honors and Lauren Perkowski of KSC was the individual champ in 19:23.

At the NCAA DIII Northeast Regional Championships on November 10 at Bowdoin College, Bowles capped her season in fine form, with the highest finish ever by any PSU women's cross-country runner in that huge race. Completing the 6k course in 24:07, her 116th place finish puts her in the all-time Panther record books. With two other first years among the top four LEC first-year runners, the future indeed looks bright for Bowles and the Panthers cross country women.

For first-year collegian Norkin, it was a season of consistent improvement. In the North Atlantic Conference (NAC) championships at Belfast, Maine on October 26, Norkin earned second-team All-Conference honors with her eleventh place finish in a time of 22:15. Her Owls team finished third in the league championship.

A team and individual season highlight was the final race of the fall, when Norkin and her Owls teammates competed against an incredible field of runners, in both size and quality, not seen since the turn of the century when the University was a member of the NAIA. 57 teams and over 400 runners toed the line for the NCAA DIII Northeast Regional Championships on Saturday, November 10 at Bowdoin College. The harriers from Presque Isle improved on both individual performances as well as their team standing against fellow North Atlantic Conference teams during the regular season. Norkin of Denmark, Maine, and all six of her teammates ran personal bests over the 6K course.

Norkin's time of 26:11 earned her a finish of 263rd in the talented field which was led by Coast Guard sophomore Kaitlyn Moody, who won the race for the second consecutive year in a blistering time of 20:43.

The State University of New York Athletic Conference is known for a high quality of competition in men's soccer. Former Raider Noah Hart was one of nine freshmen to make the SUNY-Purchase varsity roster. He played 47 minutes in four games for the 6-8-2 Panthers, and will look to earn more playing time as the team graduates six seniors and five regular starters.

UNH junior cross-country runner Nick Brown of Conway, remains a cross-country athlete with tremendous potential at the Division I level, with career best times of 15:58 over 5K and 26:05 over 8K. Unfortunately, Brown sat out of all races this fall while nursing an injury, but hopes to return to 100 percent in time for the spring track season.

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