Laura Peterson will graduate from Bowdoin College next month as one of the school’s most successful track and field athletes.

The Hall-Dale High School graduate holds school records in the long and triple jumps, but she’s not done yet. There’s a month of competition left, including the open New England and ECAC meets for which Peterson has already qualified. A shot at the Division III nationals is also looming.

“Laura’s been coming back from minor but persistent injury challenges,” Bowdoin coach Peter Slovenski said. “(She’s) in a great position to improve her personal best in both the long and triple jump. She’s the strongest she’s ever been.”

Peterson holds both the indoor and outdoor long jump records at Bowdoin, at 18 feet, 3 inches and 18-2 1/4, respectively. She also holds the indoor triple jump record of 37-11 1/4. The downside of competing in these events is the toll it takes on knees, shins and ankles, in Peterson’s case, her left ankle.

“I’ve sprained it so many times the ligaments are really loose,” Peterson said. “Really I need surgery to correct it. I have to do a lot of rehab to stabilize the muscle around it.”

The pounding of the takeoff also affects Peterson’s shins and because of those injuries, she put a lot of pressure on herself during the indoor season.

“I was trying to power through more than relax and let it happen,” she said.

Slovenski said Peterson has found the balance between being aggressive and relaxed and it could lead to some big jumps. She swept both the long and triple jumps two weeks ago at the Middlebury Invitational, much to her surprise. Slovenski said she’ll need to go 18-4 in the long jump and 39 feet in the triple to qualify for nationals.

“I’m definitely close in both,” said Peterson, who has an outdoor PR of 38-4 in the triple jump. “I think I can do it.”

Peterson has been subbing in the 4×100 relay which comes right before the triple jump and thinks dropping that event will help. She also ran the 200 at Middlebury and beat her target of 28 seconds by finishing in 27.3.

“This coming meet I’m throwing the shot put,” she said. “I’ve never done that before.”

Peterson’s focus down the stretch, however, will be on the jumps. She prefers the long jump because it’s more fun and easier on her body, but feels she has more room to improve in the triple jump. Slovenski said one of Peterson’s greatest assets is her coachability.

“In the field events, some people can’t make changes,” he said. “Laura is such an intelligent athlete she can incorporate it right away.”

Peterson, who won Class C state titles in the high jump, triple jump and long jump her senior year at Hall-Dale, is surprised how quickly her track and field career has gone by.

“I started in track at age 10 with Augusta Rec,” she said.

The Division III nationals fall on the same day as graduation and should she qualify, Peterson said she’ll probably compete.

“I may retract that,”she said.

A sociology major with a minor in history, Peterson has secured an internship in the human resources department with a Portland firm upon graduation. Lately, she’s been reflecting on her time at Bowdoin.

“Everything about this experience here has been wonderful, especially being part of the track team,” she said. “I feel like I’ve grown in so many different ways. I’m excited about the next step but I’m sad about leaving.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

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