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New London —When Adam Scalesse graduates from the Coast Guard Academy next year, he'll leave as one of the most accomplished track and field athletes in school history.
Scalesse also is determined to leave as a national champion.
As the top seed in the 110-meter hurdles, he's in prime position to pull off that difficult feat at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championship, starting Thursday at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
"He's definitely geared up," coach Ethan Brown said. "When he finished up last season with outdoor, that was when he realized what he can do and he applied that to his training from the beginning."
Scalesse is attempting to become the academy's first individual champion since Drew Orsinger, a pole vaulter, in 1995.
It's the second straight trip to the NCAA Championship for Scalesse, who placed eighth in the 110 hurdles last spring. The difference this time is he's the favorite.
"The last couple of years I've come in as an underdog, feeling like I can just go out and run my best and get in the finals and maybe do something," Scalesse said after practice on Monday. "The expectation has changed a little bit for myself.
"I've had the best time all season. I just want to go out and do what I've been doing. That's all I can control. Hopefully, I can throw down a PR at nationals and see where that goes."
His personal best is 14.16 seconds. Junior Matt Bundy of Wesley College (Del.) owns the second best time at 14.26 and Ronnie Posthauer of Wabash College (Ind.) is third at 14.36.
He's familiar with his competition in both of his events. He also qualified in the 400 hurdles, where he's seeded 13th in 52.66.
"It's just a matter of doing your best and that's all you can do," Scalesse said. "It's the kind of field where you can't just slack off in preliminaries. There are probably 20 people running their hardest just to make finals.
"So I've got to be on my game all three days if I want to make it."
A three-time All-American in indoor and outdoor track, Scalesse has dominated the competition this season. He was named the U.S. Track&Field and Cross Country Coaches Association New England Region Track Athlete of the Year.
In the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference, he earned track athlete of the year after winning the 110 hurdles and taking second in the 400 hurdles in the conference championships.
Even though he still has another year to achieve his goal of winning a national title, he's determined to take advantage of opportunity this year.
"I've proven all season I can run just as fast as those other guys," Scalesse said. "I've just got to go out and have the best race possible. I've proven I can be No. 1 all season. I just hope putting in extra work over the weekend and staying healthy will pay off."
Brown believes that Scalesse has potential to post one of the top 10 times in Division III history in the 110 hurdles.
"We're peaking him at the right moment," Brown said. "We're confident that he's ready to go and when we get to nationals that could be his best race. Great competition, he rises up to that type of challenge. I think he's going to take advantage of this, if he can."
Scalesse is one of four Coast Guard athletes competing in the NCAA Championship meet.
Junior Ben Wolhaupter, who's the first CGA pole vaulter to qualify since 1996, is ranked 12th at 4.85 meters while first-time qualifier Clay Kosack, a junior, is rated seventh in the decathlon.
In the women's competition, sophomore Beth Gollin will be the first Coast Guard female to compete in the 3,000 meter steeplechase on the national level. She's ranked 18th at 11:03.98.
"I'm glad to have some company," Scalesse said.