It took her a few years to get going, but Bianca Bolton has made the most of the past two years on Misericordia University’s track and field team.
The Pittston Area grad turned in one of her biggest accomplishments to date recently at the Middle Atlantic Conference Indoor Championships. Bolton was named the 2015-16 MAC Track Athlete of the Year at the championships held on Saturday, Feb. 27 at Lehigh University. Bolton was also named the MAC Women’s Track Athlete of the Week.
At the championships, the senior won gold in the mile run with a time of 5:11.13 to earn all-conference first-team honors. She took silver in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 18:04.66 for all-conference first-team honors.
“It was awesome because I was coming off Runner of the Year for cross country,” she said. “Now I got the track honor. It was kind of unexpected and I was happy.”
In the 3,000-meter run, Bolton finished fifth and she finished sixth in the 800-meter run to earn second-team honors. Bolton’s prowess helped Misericordia to a second straight MAC Indoor Championship.
“I don’t know if this one was as cool because last year was our first,” she said. “Overall we were super excited and we knew we had an advantage going in. We had the full package.”
Misericordia coach Chris Wadas agreed with Bolton and said he has a special group of athletes at Misericordia.
“They work really hard,” he said. “You never know what next year is going to bring you. They always have this goal now.”
Bolton scored a meet-high 25 points, ultimately leading to her Athlete of the Year honor. Wadas was named MAC Women’s Coach of the Year for the second straight year. Misericordia scored 163 points, while Lebanon Valley finished second with 132 points.
“She’s one of those kids in the program that can turn on the switch,” Wadas said of Bolton. “She’s been doing a lot of different things for us and she always does whatever we ask.”
Early in Bolton’s career, she faced anemia and struggled with fatigue and loss of energy. Once her anemia was treated prior to last season, Bolton began to excel. Those days are behind her and she’s running the best times she’s ever had.
At last year’s MAC indoor championships, Bolton won the 3,000 (10:26.9) and 5,000 (18:32.43) runs. In the fall, Bolton was crowned Misericordia University’s first MAC individual cross country champion while leading the Cougars to their second straight conference championship.
She shaved nearly 30 seconds off her indoor 5,000 time this year but finished with a silver medal. Bolton attributes that to the tough competition in the conference.
“It was a lot more competitive this year,” she said. “They moved it up to the first event as opposed to being late in the day when runners are tired. I was super pumped when I ran that time.”
Bolton is a two-time national qualifier in cross country at Misericordia. She’s made a name for herself in NCAA Division 3 over the past four years and hope to qualify for this year’s NCAA championships. In the beginning, she said, it was difficult to get going. Over the past couple seasons of outdoor track, cross country and now indoor track she’s been taking on more responsibilities as a Misericordia runner.
Bolton ran four events at the MAC championships. That helped her get to the 25 points she needed to earn the Athlete of the Year honor.
Pittston Area grad Mike Harth’s sophomore season was another successful one. At the MAC championships, Harth finished seventh in the 60, while finishing fourth in the 400 and sixth in the 200. He was part of the second-place 4×400 relay team.
“He had a great freshman season,” Wadas said. “He’s having a really good year this year. We tried him in the 60 and he made the final.”
Wadas said Harth is most suitable for the outdoor 400. Inside, Wadas said, Harth, being a bigger runner, struggles to find gaps in different lanes. The outdoor 400 keeps runners in their own lane and that’s when Harth excels, Wadas said.
“He’ll be running great in the 200 and 400 when it comes to that,” Wadas said. “He knows the program now and he’ll be solid at the end of the year. We’re getting ready for outdoors.”
The Cougars will compete in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Championships on Friday, March 4 and Saturday, March 5 at the New York Armory in New York City. Bolton will be competing in the distance medley relay on Friday and the mile on Saturday.
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick