Sixteen athletes have earned a total of 31 NESCAC all-conference outdoor honors based on their performance at the conference championship meet since 2001. Peter Kosgei '11 was voted the most outstanding male performer at the 2008 and 2009 NESCAC Championships. James Russell '09 won four straight NESCAC titles in the pole vault from 2006 to 2009. Olamide Harrison '05 collected five all-NESCAC awards in sprints and relays. Graham Sadler '14 made the 2012 NESCAC All-Conference team for finishing first in the high jump. Scott Bickard '11 was NESCAC all-conference for finishing second in the 10,000-meter run in 2011.
The program never boasted an NCAA individual champion until Kosgei arrived on campus. Kosgei broke through at the 2007 NCAA Division III Championships as he finished first in the steeplechase. He cemented his place in Hamilton track and field history by defending his steeplechase title at the 2008 national meet, and then added a victory in the 5,000-meter run for good measure. Kosgei's legend grew at the 2009 championships when he finished first in both events again. But it wasn't so much the victories as how he won that was the story. Midway through the 5,000 meters, a runner clipped the back of Kosgei's shoe and it fell off. Kosgei didn't have time to stop and retrieve the lost shoe, so he kept going. Despite the extreme pain on the shoeless foot, he won the race by one second with a facility-record time of 14:39.03.
Kosgei followed in the footsteps of Walter H. Pritchard '32, who was a great distance runner. Pritchard's name adorns the College's track and field facility. He finished second in the mile at the 1932 NCAA meet and tried out for the U.S. Olympic team. He made the team and competed in the Games in Los Angeles later that year. Pritchard was entered in the steeplechase and was one of four athletes that broke the existing Olympic record during the qualifying heats. He went on to finish seventh in the finals, and to this day is one of just three Hamilton alumni that have represented the U.S. at the Olympics.
Three other Continentals have earned All-America honors based on their performances at the NCAA championships. Victor Morganthaler '84 captured sixth place in the hammer throw with a program-record distance of 53.70 meters in 1984. Drew Ramsey finished sixth in the 440-yard dash with a time of 48.7 seconds in 1966. Tom Carr III was an All-American in 1971. Legendary head coach Gene Long ran the cross country and track and field programs for 38 years from 1953 until he retired in 1991. Hamilton has placed four times in the team standings at the NCAA championships (1984 and 2007 to 2009). The best finish was a tie for ninth place in 2009 thanks to Kosgei's victories in two events.
2009 was about more than just Kosgei, who was selected the Division III and Atlantic Region outdoor track athlete of the year by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association for the second year in a row. Four athletes earned a spot on the NESCAC all-conference team. Greg Fullman '09 was runner-up in the 400-meter hurdles and Joshua Orndorff '11 finished third in the shot put. Kosgei took first place in the 800- and 1,500-meter run, and earned the Sebasteanski Award for the most outstanding male performer at the NESCAC championships.
Kosgei enjoyed the finest season in program history in 2008. He set school records in the 800 meters (1:48.72), the 1,500 meters (3:50.78), the steeplechase (8:43.78 at the Penn Relays) and the 5,000 meters (14:30.35). Records fell nearly everywhere Kosgei competed in 2008. The only race he didn't win was the steeplechase at the Penn Relays, where he finished second to a Division II athlete, but recorded the second-fastest time in Division III history. He set a University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh facility record in the steeplechase at the NCAA meet. His legendary performance in the 800 at the NYSCTC championships smashed school and meet records. He established meet and facility records in the 800 and 1,500 at the NESCAC championships, which were held at Hamilton's Pritchard Track.
Academic excellence is important to the program. Miles Blackburn '13, Sam Dupuis '13 and Hashem Zikry '13 were three of seven student-athletes on the 2012 NESCAC Spring All-Academic team. Each honoree has a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.35 and must have reached sophomore academic standing at his institution. Keith Gross '09 was valedictorian of his graduating class.
The 2013 schedule includes two invitationals at Hamilton and the prestigious NESCAC championships at Tufts University. Athletes can qualify for the NYSCTC championships and the ECAC Division III championships. The 2013 NCAA Division III Outdoor Championships will be held at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.