Bates College indoor track athletes Alice Cockerham, left, of Kingfield, Kahryn Cullenberg, center, of Farmington and Jillian Richardson of Auburn. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Kahryn Cullenberg treasures being surrounded by familiar faces of fellow Mainers like Alice Cockerham and Jillian Richardson at indoor track and field practices.

The three are from either Androscoggin or Franklin counties and have made significant contributions to the success of Bates College’s women’s running teams. The trio — part of an eight-member contingent of Pine Tree State natives on the Bates women’s indoor track team — has set individual goals for themselves for the coming season, which starts on Saturday.

“I definitely appreciate my go-to Mainers on the team,” Cullenberg, a Mt. Blue High School graduate, said. “It is fun to be with so many people who aren’t from Maine but to still have those go-to people who I have known since high school or before.

“Even going to meets, too, I’ve feel like there is still a very strong Maine connection, like teams from NESCAC and beyond. Like when you see someone you knew from Maine, you are always going to say, ‘Hi.’”

Cullenberg, a junior who is a double majoring in environmental and gender and sexuality studies, also competes for the Bates women’s cross country and outdoor track teams.

“Kahryn, oh my God, such a ball of energy and comes from an amazing family (and an) amazing running community,” Bates indoor track coach Curtis Johnson said. “So having them all a part of our team is special to us.


“We try to recruit the best, but when we can also include phenomenal student-athletes from the state of Maine, obviously we are proud of it.”

This spring, Cullenberg competed in the New England outdoor track and field championships and conjured up 16th-place finish and a career-best 5K time of 18:29.7. She finished fourth in the 1,500 meters with a time of 4:58.12 at the Pine Tree Relays. During last winter’s indoor season, she placed third in the 3,000 meters with her time of 10:42.46 at the Lynn Ruddy Invitational. 

She also chalked up some impressive times for the cross country team this fall. She competed in the NESCAC Championships, finishing 70th with a 6K time of 23:51.6. Cullenberg also placed eighth at the Maine State Meet after turning in a 5K finish of 18:52.5.

“It is kind of like the whole square-rectangle thing, where it is like, if you do cross country, you pretty much have to do track,” Cullenberg said. “But if you do track, you don’t have to do cross country.”

Cullenberg said that her favorite event is the indoor 3K.

“… A lot of times, the mile goes by so fast,” she said. “It’s kind of sounds funny calling that a short event. With all the turns on the indoor track, you just felt like you didn’t get in the right position from the start. You were kind of stuck. Whereas the 3K feels like there is more time to be strategic and really think about your next move.”


Cullenburg’s goal the indoor season is to qualify for New Englands. 

“I went to (New Englands) for outdoor track in the 5K,” she said. “For outdoor New Englands, like I said, I was in the 5K, and for most of the race I was in last place or like second- or third-to-last, and I was still having the race of my life — I still got a PR. People were pity cheering for me and I was like, ‘No. no, I am having a good race.’”


Cockerham is a senior captain and sprinter majoring anthropology and religious studies. She also runs for the outdoor track team.

At the NESCAC championships this spring, the Mt. Abram graduate helped Bates snatch fifth place in the 4×100 relay (49.97 seconds). She also had a hand in the Bobcats’ ninth-place showing in the 4×200 relay at the New England Indoor championships last winter.

“I am the sprints coach, and this is year seven (for me), so working with Alice, particularly a sprinter who has developed over the years, reminds me why it is so important see all the untapped potential in our community is recruited right around here,” Johnson said. “She really specializes in the 60 and 200 (races). … I expect all of her events — 60, 200, relays, to be such a strong effort going into this year.”


Cockerham said the 200 meters is her favorite event.

“I like (the 200) because it feels like you are actually racing people because sometimes in those really short races, like you really don’t have a chance to kind of pull ahead or fall behind,” she said. “It is just so short, but the 200 it feels like you are really racing the people next to you — and I like that.”

Cockerham knew she wanted to attend Bates since her freshman year at Mt. Abram.

“I didn’t know I wanted to run here,” she said. “I wanted to play soccer, but some things kind of unfolded and I ended up on the track team as a walk-on. Never expected to be like captain or make it all four years, but, yeah, I love running for Bates. I love representing Bates. It is just a really good program to be a part of.”

Like Cullenberg, Cockerham wants to take her best shot at making New Englands.

“Last year, I was less than a second away from qualifying,” she said. “That has been my goal for four years.”


Richardson, who was homeschooled but ran for the Edward Little High School track and cross country teams, is a senior captain who has been successful in all three sports at Bates.

“As you know, she has been a distance star in the state of Maine and for our Bates cross country and track teams,” Johnson said. “Anywhere from the 3K to the 5K is really her bread and butter. With her experience at this point, she really has the range to do any event over the mile and higher. 

“With that said, she is kicking of the season this Saturday in the 3K in a meet at Boston University. We will see her in the 3K to start things off, but that is definitely not what she is limited to.” 

She became the only two-time All-American in Bates women’s cross country history. She was also there when the Bobcats cross country squad turned in their two best finishes in the NCAAs in 2019 and 2022. Bates finished 14th both those seasons.

She copped All-American honors in the NCAA Championships in 2021 and 2022. She finished 28th out of 293 athletes who competed in the 2022 competition. Prior to that, she won the 2022 East Regional Championship, making her the first Bates women’s cross country athlete to run off with a regional title in 30 years.

One of Richardson’s goals is try an event she has had her eye on for some time.


“I haven’t done an indoor 5K yet,” she said. “So I would like to give that a try. For my 3K, (I want) to get a PR in that and try and get a PR for my college mile time. It would be fun to do.”

Richardson enjoys running for Bates College for several reasons.

“I feel like a lot of us chose a D-III school on purpose because I feel like it helps you have a balance with (academics and sports),” she said. “It is just a good atmosphere. I like it a lot here.”

Johnson said having Maine athletes come to Bates is a plus for the Bobcats’ sports program.

“It is funny. Even though we are a school in Maine, it is such a diverse campus that we take a lot pride and we have Mainers already here,” he said.


Johnson, who was promoted to head coach of the men’s and women’s track teams teams in 2021, said impressive individual performances from the past season should carry over for another successful run.

“I am very excited for the team,” Johnson said. “We are definitely always excited coming off a strong cross country season. The track and field group, we go to regionals and support that group and it really catapults our team energy and momentum going into the indoor season, too.

“The men last year were fourth place at New Englands, and we are really proud of that effort. Matching or bettering that is obviously a goal. The women we were just inside the top eight and so we want to maintain and do better there. It is so, so good to be training without restrictions that we’ve had the last few years. Seeing training being more fluent and consistent with just the normal hiccups and none of the ones that are out of our control, it is something very special.”

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