For a couple of days at least, it appeared the track and field career of University of Southern Maine senior Bethany Dumas had come to an abrupt and unfortunate end.

Dumas was bicycling from the USM campus in Gorham to her off-campus apartment on March 8 when she was blindsided by a car.

“She was making a left-hand turn, I was going straight,” Dumas said. “We hit head on. I didn’t see it coming.”

Dumas’ head struck the windshield pretty hard causing several cuts and bruises and a mild concussion. She was hospitalized for a couple of hours and released. It wasn’t until the next day that Dumas realized how banged up she was.

“It was like ‘boom,’ ” she said. “I was definitely stiff and sore.”

She missed less than a week of practice and last week finished first in the javelin in a rained-shortened meet at North Florida. She also competes in the hurdles and pole vault.

“She’s still known as a pole vaulter,” USM coach George Towle said, noting Dumas has qualified for the Division III nationals in both the pole vault and javelin.

Towle recruited Dumas out of Cony High School where she set and still holds the outdoor record in the pole vault at 11 feet, 6 inches. It proved a sound decision since Dumas has not only scored hundreds of points for the Huskies in indoor and outdoor track but has also been a team leader.

“She’s a two-year captain,” Towle said. “She’s just a great kid with a great set of values. Our team appreciated her a lot. We’re gearing up for life without Bethany.”

Dumas missed the first month and a half of the indoor season while she was serving an internship at the National Ability Center in Park City, Utah.

“Basically I worked with people who have an array of disabilities,” Dumas, a therapeutic recreation major, said. “I’d like to get a job in the field and eventually go out West.”

There are still several meets left in the season, which ends with the ECAC meet on May 28. Dumas and Towle would like to get her time in the 400 hurdles down to 64 seconds, and she’d like to jump consistently over 12 feet in the pole vault. Her PR at USM in the pole vault is 12-1, although she topped that her junior year in high school when she cleared 12-7. One byproduct of her accident is Dumas now pole vaults wearing a helmet which is not required in college.

“That makes my mom happy,” she said.

Dumas has come on strong in the javelin as well. Her personal best is 136 feet, an accomplishment given her height.

“I’m only 5-2,” she said. “That puts me at such a disadvantage.”

Dumas has worked closely with coach Jim Giroux to improve her technique in the javelin and it has paid off.

“In high school and the first two years of college it was run fast and throw,” Dumas said. “I’m actually learning how to throw the javelin. We’re working on using the whole body, especially the legs.”

Towle is looking forward to having Dumas for another eight weeks, particularly considering how close the team came to losing her altogether.

“She’s pretty lucky,” Towle said. “She was pretty banged up. The poor girl who hit her was so distraught Bethany ended up taking care of her. Classic Bethany.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

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