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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Freshman’s Speed Gives UMass Boston Track Team a Needed Boost

Wadeline Jonathas
Wadeline Jonathas

Haiti native Wadeline Jonathas entered this year’s NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field championships with history in her sights. The University of Massachusetts Boston Beacons freshman entered the event a strong contender in the 200- and 400-meter events. If she won either of those events, she would be part of a club of five other athletes in Beacons Women’s Track and Field history to have won a national title.
The last Beacon national champion in that regard was Hulerie McGuffie, who won the 400 at last year’s NCAA Championship. The other four athletes, Genesia Eddins, Jackie James, Murtonda Durant, and Darrelle Boyd, all won titles in 1988. Despite the pressure, Jonathas entered the championships with poise and confidence, and that attitude would prove to pay off handsomely.
Entering the championships on Saturday, March 11 at the campus of North Central College, Jonathas ran the 400 finals first and the 200 finals afterward. In the latter event, Jonathas faced great competition from the likes of Amber Celen of Bridgewater College of Virginia. But she did not back down from the challenge, engaging in a great neck-to-neck battle all the way to the final turn, where Celen made the decisive break to win in the homestretch.
Jonathas settled for an impressive second place, with a program record 24.54 seconds, just .39 behind Celen’s championship-winning time. For the 400 meters, Jonathas would show the other competitors that they were no match for her. In the preliminaries on Friday, March 10, Jonathas clocked a meet-best 55.31, nearly .60 faster than Chelsea Gilles, the senior from Greenville College in Illinois, who had the next fastest time.
In the final heat on the following day, Jonathas came through in the clutch, delivering a national championship-winning time of 55.60, just under a tenth of a second faster than that of Gilles, who finished with a time of 55.69 for second place. With the victory, she made it the second year in a row a Beacon won the women’s 400-meter national championship.
Jonathas’s performances in both events yielded all 18 points the Beacons women’s track and field team would pick up at the championship meet. Their total was good enough for them to finish in ninth place in the standings; it was the best result for all Little East Conference members who participated, and was the third best of all schools in Massachusetts, behind Williams, who finished fourth nationally, and MIT, who finished right behind them in fifth.
As the indoor portion of the track season comes to an end, Jonathas heads into spring with plenty of momentum. With 15 more meets left on the campaign, including the NCAA Division III outdoor championships in May, she has a foundation to build on for what could add up to be a golden freshman campaign.
When all is said and done, no matter what happens from here, she has already made a great contribution to the heritage and championship legacy of Beacons Track and Field.