BRATTLEBORO — For the first time in three years a Bellows Falls Union High School (BFUHS) athlete has won the Division II state championship in indoor track and field.
Sophomore Hadley Gleim won the state title in the triple jump with a distance of 29 feet, 8.75 inches, besting the second place finisher by nearly two feet. Gleim also placed fourth in the 55-meter dash and fifth in the long jump.
Her win marked the first time that a Bellows Falls athlete has won an indoor track and field event since Reno Tuttle won a throwing event in 2019. Laura Kamel won the Division II state championship for Bellows Falls last spring in discus for outdoor track and field.
Gleim, who has been competing in the triple jump since middle school, said that when she walked on stage to accept her first place ribbon, the experience seemed surreal.
"It didn't really feel real. I've never gotten a first place ribbon before in track. So, especially that being a state championship for my first, first place ribbon, I think that's pretty cool, especially being a sophomore," Gleim said. "I think the realization was when I got on the bus and after the bus started moving to go home. I had the ribbon, I put it in my lunch box so I wouldn't lose it and made sure that it was zipped up."
In addition to the medal that was being shipped to her for the win, Gleim said she also received a jacket. Whenever an individual athlete wins a state championship at Bellows Falls, track coach Kim Lunna said the Boosters Club buys the athlete a jacket.
Despite the end result, the championship did not come without its challenges, the weather being among them. The state championship meet was held in Burlington on Saturday, Feb. 4, which saw a high of -4 degree temperatures and a low of -17 degrees, according to world-weather.info. Lunna indicated that the temperature alone was an obstacle the athletes had to overcome.
"We were in layers upon layers because it really didn't get out of the 50s. There were times where it wasn't in the 50s in that fieldhouse," said Lunna. "Any of the kids that performed well that day, kudos to them."
Gleim noted that there was a difference between training and competing in outdoor track versus indoor track. Going into the competition on Feb. 4, Gleim said she would practice jumping in the hallways of the school. The main points of focus, she said, were making sure that she was counting her steps and making sure she was on the board, in addition to maintaining her conditioning.
Another difference with indoor track was that Gleim did not have a pit to practice jumping into. Instead they would use a mat to simulate a pit. Lunna said that one of the disadvantages of being in Southern Vermont and practicing for indoor track and field competitions was they did not have use of the pit, whereas some of the northern schools had the ability to practice at The University of Vermont (UVM).
Not being able to replicate the conditions of the competition can put competitors at a distinct disadvantage, Gleim said.
"It is definitely a huge difference in terms of what surface I'm running on and what shoes I'm wearing and the air temperature because your muscles get all tight and it's colder in the fieldhouse," Gleim said. "It is a big difference and sometimes it's hard to adjust."
Gleim said that she views indoor track as a preseason to outdoor track and that typically her results are better when competing in outdoor track.
"If my jump is getting better in indoor then it's definitely going to get better in outdoor," Gleim said. "We're on an actual track and I can see the pit and I can see, through my peripheral vision, the board and I can sense that I'm jumping into the pit. Also ... when it's spring and it's sunny my muscles don't get as tight and I'm looser."
Bellows Falls' first home spring track and field meet is scheduled for May 2, according to the BFUHS website.