GORHAM — All competitors handle the transition from high school to collegiate athletics differently.

Some take a few years before they are ready to contribute, while others make an immediate impact.

Rachel Ingram, a freshman on the University of Southern Maine women’s track and field team, belongs in the latter category.

“It’s been pretty easy for me,” Ingram, a graduate of Winthrop High School, said. “My coach (George Towle) really gave me the workouts and he makes everything really understandable.”

When the Little East Conference released its first round of weekly women’s track and field honors for the season on Dec. 8, Ingram was selected as the Rookie Field Athlete of the Week by virtue of her performance two days prior at the USM Invitational.

“I was really shocked,” Ingram said. “I knew I did well but I didn’t think I did that well.”

At the non-team scoring event, Ingram placed third in the long jump (15 feet, 6 1/4 inches) — just 4 1/2 inches behind the event’s top finisher — and fourth in the triple jump (32-0).

“I felt pretty confident in my long jump,” Ingram said. “Triple jump was a little bit not really what I was hoping to do.

“…I had all my events pretty much all it once so I didn’t really have time to think about it.”

Ingram settled on USM after considering Westfield State University, Bridgewater State University, University of Rhode Island and University of Maine at Orono.

“I really wanted to do track and URI wasn’t really sure I could do it,” Ingram said. “Westfield and Bridgewater, they were really far away and I wanted to stay closer to home.”

Ingram also noted that her major — athletic training — and Towle also factored into her decision to join the Huskies.

While the transition has been a smooth one for the freshman, it has not come without hard work. Like many first-year track athletes — and in particular, jumpers — Ingram has had to make major changes to her technique.

“We started with my approach and changed everything about that,” Ingram said. “Now we’re working more towards in-the-air technique.

“…I’d like to improve both of my (personal records) by hopefully one foot, definitely a foot in triple, maybe a little bit further in long. (I’d like to) qualify for definitely New Englands and possibly the Easterns.”

Both those goals are still two months away from potentially being realized, however, and for now Ingram is focusing on finishing up exams and preparing for when the season resumes.

“We don’t have another meet for about three weeks now, so I’m pretty much on my own,” Ingram said. “We go back for preseason on January 5th. I have a workout plan for the next two and a half weeks. I’ll probably go down to Gorham (a couple times). I won’t be able to do it every day but I’ll probably do a lot of strength training too.”

The Huskies’ next meet will be Jan. 10 at 12 p.m. when they host the USM Invitational.

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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