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Pembroke’s Amanda Claflin on the fast track at Wheaton

Amanda Claflin in action at the NCAA indoor meet.

Steve Woltman

Amanda Claflin in action at the NCAA indoor meet.

Pembroke’s Claflin wins collegiate honor

Amanda Claflin was prepared to try out for the swim team as a freshman at Pembroke High, until she realized the cost of purchasing a competition-level suit.

Instead, she chose track and field. The rest is history.

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Now a senior at Wheaton College, Claflin is a highly decorated Division 3 All-American sprinter. “I played soccer in high school, and I knew I was fast but I didn’t have very good footwork,” she said. “I had never even considered running track, but after I ran indoors for the first time it changed everything. And the uniform was free.”

Last week, Claflin was named Athlete of the Year in women’s track by the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference, after capturing the 100-meter (12.12 seconds) and the 200-meter (25.40) dashes at the conference championships. She is also a member of Wheaton’s 4x100 relay team (along with Weymouth’s Samantha Bennett ), which has registered the fastest time in Division 3 this season (46.24 seconds).

Claflin’s finish in the 100 at the NEWMAC championships was the seventh fastest time in Division 3 this season.

“She is having an exceptional year and has set personal bests in every event she’s run, including the 60 meters, 100 meters and 200 meters,” said Wheaton coach Dave Cusano.

Claflin earned All-America honors at the NCAA Division 3 indoor track & field championships in March with her sixth-place finish at 60 meters (7.73 seconds). She is also a two-time All-American in the 4x400 relay (indoors this winter and outdoors last spring).

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With three meets to go this spring, she expects to register a new personal best in the 100.

“I’m going to run faster,” said Claflin, who is aiming for 11.8 seconds at the NCAA championship over Memorial Day weekend.

“That would be my goal. . . I’ll probably run once at Georgia Tech and then twice at the ECACs in the trials and finals, and then twice again at nationals. Hopefully one of those times I’ll just pop one off.”

Claflin, a psychology major, hopes to find a job teaching early childhood or special education after graduating from Wheaton. However, she plans to pursue her track career as an independent runner.

“I’m going to keep training pretty diligently and see what happens,” said Claflin. “According to my coach, runners peak between the age of 27 and 29. I am only 22, so I feel like I can get so much faster.”

Might she be eyeing a run at the Olympics?

“You never know,” she said. “I never really even thought about that until this year, when I started to get much faster and really believe in my potential. It’s definitely an idea.”

Cusano believes that Claflin has the work ethic and the talent to potentially compete on the national level. “She would have her work cut out for her, but if she is willing to put in the time, why not dream?”

Bennett and Claflin were both on the 4x400 relay team that captured first place at the NEWMAC championships while setting a new meet record (3:50:38) .

Bennett, who graduated from Weymouth High in 2009, earned her first All America honor at the NCAA indoor championships in March, taking eighth place in the 800- meter run (2:15.56).

Allen’s throws lift Tufts to track title

Norton High grad Kelly Allen , a senior at Tufts University, received the Sabasteanski Award as the Most Outstanding Female Performer at the New England Small College Athletic Conference’s track and field championships. She also received the award in 2011.

Allen, who won the shot put (43 feet 1 inch), discus (153-2) and hammer throw (172-10) to lead the Jumbos to their first NESCAC title since 1988, finished her Tufts career with eight victories at conference championship meets.

She also had a discus throw of 162 feet 6 inches at last week’s New England Division 3 championships, setting the divisional mark for the longest throw in the country this year.

Local players lead Bridgewater State

Hull native Lauren Geary, a freshman midfielder on the women’s lacrosse team at Bridgewater State University, earned Rookie of the Year honors in the Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference.

Geary (44 goals, 22 assists) helped the Bears (17-2) lock up a trip to the NCAA Division 3 tournament by winning the MASCAC title on Saturday with a 13-10 victory over Westfield State. She recorded a goal and two assists in addition to five ground balls and a game-best seven draws in the title game, while Braintree’s Taylor Clancy added five goals in earning tournament MVP honors. Duxbury’s Jill Caramello had five goals, three ground balls, and a pair of caused turnovers.

The Bears were scheduled to play a first-round tourney game at Bowdoin on Wednesday.

Quincy runner plans Marathon benefit

Hassan Haydar of Quincy will join a group running the Boston Marathon course on May 19 to raise funds for three of the people injured at the Boston Marathon bombings. Haydar, who will turn 63 this month, has run 33 marathons, including 13 in Boston.

“It’s the least we can do,” he said. “These people were just standing at the finish line waiting to cheer on their friend.”

Organizers of the event will be accepting donations along the course on May 19; contributions can also be dropped off at any TD Bank branch. Runners interested in joining the event can contact Haydar at hhaydar154@aol.com.

John R. Johnson can be reached at jjohnson49@comcast.net.

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