Campus Currents

Oh, to Be in England
Seven UNHers compete in Olympic trials

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Katelyn Dobbs '12
Ralph Morang '72
OVERLAPPING: Oneida Cooper '15, left, of South Africa and Katie Mann '15 of Canada spent spring break preparing for their Olympic trials.

The Olympic torch relay is making its way around the United Kingdom, but several UNH students and alumni are paying attention instead to their upcoming Olympic trials, which will decide if they'll compete in London this summer.

Swimmer Jessie Ellis-Alcaide '09G, from Harpswell, Maine, will compete in the 50- and 100-meter freestyles and 100-meter butterfly at the U.S. Swimming Trials from June 25 to July 2 in Omaha. "It's the most amazing thing," says Ellis-Alcaide. "I'm so excited to go."

Ellis-Alcaide broke two 10-year-old America East records as a graduate student at UNH. "When I got to UNH and started training that heavily, it kick-started my career," she says.

Runner Allison Letourneau '11, '12G of Kingston, Nova Scotia, will run the 1,500 meters in Canada's trials from June 27 to 30 in Calgary. "It was like a farfetched dream," she says. "I had kind of a breakthrough season, so now it's a reality." Letourneau, who broke UNH records in the mile (twice), the 1,000, 1,500 and 5,000 meters, also qualified for the 5,000 meters but opted to "stick with what I'm most familiar with."

Joanne Duffley Dow, '86, '12G, a race walker who competed in the 2008 Olympics, is a graduate assistant track coach at UNH and is preparing for her fifth track and field trials on July 1 in Eugene, Ore. An 11-time national race-walking champion from Manchester, N.H., she had cut back on training to concentrate on finishing her master's in kinesiology, coaching and her family. But she "needed some closure" to her racing career, she says. "I can't even believe I'm doing it for the fifth time. But at a national level, this is going to be it. I hope to go walk a respectable race and then get a great job coaching full time somewhere."

Several other students and alumni who competed in trials but didn't make the Olympic cut say they're glad to have had the experience.

Katie Mann '15 from Prince George, British Columbia, turned in her best performances yet, missing the 200-meter breaststroke finals by .8 of a second. She calls the competition a "really, really exciting experience. In 2008, I felt overwhelmed because I was so brand new to the scene. This time, I felt like more of a competitor and had more confidence in myself." She also scored personal bests in the 100-meter breaststroke, and 200- and 400-meter individual medley events.

Oneida Cooper '15 of Johannesburg placed eighth in the 200-meter individual medley and ninth in the 100-meter butterfly and backstroke events at the South African trials in Durban. Cooper also swam the 100-meter freestyle and 200-meter backstroke, and says she felt better prepared than in 2008 because the UNH season is more rigorous than South African meet schedules.

Two marathoners, Erica Jesseman '11 of Scarborough, Maine, and Megan Hepp Hovis '05 of Charlotte, N.C., both trained under UNH coach Robert Hoppler, but didn't meet until they competed at the Houston trials in January. Hovis placed 12th in the 2008 trials and hasn't ruled out 2016. But in 2012, she says, "it was pretty exciting to have two UNH alums at the race."

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