By Greg Dudek
If anybody says they are surprised by the performance of freshman Samantha Richner for the Bridgewater State University women’s indoor track and field team this season, they probably are lying to you.
Richner, a standout jumper from Whitman-Hanson high school, has raised the bar to another level during an impressive first season as a Lady Bear.
“She’s a monster,” said Bridgewater State men’s head coach Thomas Smith. “She might be the most gifted athlete we’ve had coming out of high school. Some kids surprise you, but we knew she was special before she got to Bridgewater.”
In her first season in a Bridgewater State uniform, Richner has jumped at the chance to excel. Richner has performed very well in the high jump, making a name for herself not only at Bridgewater, but across the country.
Richner currently ranks 16 in all Division III in the high jump and three weeks ago broke the Bridgewater State high jump record with a jump of five feet, five inches.
With the record-breaking jump, it garnered many accolades for Richner, including Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Women’s Indoor Field Athlete and Rookie of the Week.“Up until the past meet, I was kind of disappointed because I wanted to do a lot better,” Richner said. “But, I’m excited that I got the school record. Now, I just want to make it even higher. I’m happy I did it and got back into the swing of things.”
She did not stop there, as the next week she followed up her record-breaking performance with another good showing and once again earned MASCAC Rookie of the Week honors for the fourth time this season.
This past week, Richner kept on keeping the bar high with a solid outing at the David Hemery Valentine Invitational.
Even with her high-caliber performances, this is what coaches and teammates expected of Richner when she decided to attend Bridgewater State.
“The way she is performing, I am not surprised,” said senior captain of the men’s team and fellow jumper Joshua Danner-Hicks. “To do what she is doing in her first year is really impressive.”
And while many freshman struggle with the transition from high school to college, Richner has made the transition look easy. She has also taken all the high acclaim in stride too.
“The awards are very flattering, but she knows her jumps will speak for themselves with or without the accolades,” said women’s head coach Michael Salem. “Before she broke the school record at BU a couple of weeks back, she said to the coaches, ‘I’m getting it today.’ She’s been there before and the confidence that comes with it is a great tool.”
With the season changing stages, Richner will get a chance to showcase her talent on a bigger stage at more high-profiled meets.
Richner has already qualified for Div. III New England Championships and the ECAC Div. III Championships. But with her early season success, the expectations for Richner continue to grow, and she said at times she can feel the pressure mounting.
“When I didn’t jump as well I was kind of felt disappointed,” Richner said. “I didn’t want other people to expect so much of me and I give so little.”
Richner will try to combat the pressure and keep on jumping higher and higher as the season goes along, starting this Saturday when the Lady Bears compete in the MASCAC Championships.
Greg Dudek is The Comment’s Editor-In-Chief. Follow him on Twitter at gdudek10 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.