Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Big finish

Ashante_Little_400mAshante Little ’14 wins national championship

They say first impressions are important. Ashante Little seems to have that nailed down, judging by her first encounter with Dave Cusano, Wheaton’s head track and field coach, during his first season on campus in 2012.

“When I first met Ashante, she asked, ‘How are you going to make me a national champion?’” Cusano recalls. “I knew right from that moment that I was going to have an opportunity to coach someone very special.”

Wheaton Track & FieldTheir teamwork, indeed, has led Little to her greatest achievement on the track. Last spring she captured her first career national title with a personal best time of 54.79 seconds in the 400-meter dash at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championship in La Crosse, Wis.

“Before the final of the 400-meter, coach told me I could do it,” she says. “It had been a long weekend and we still had races to finish, but his trust and reassurance kept me out of my own head and helped me stay as focused and on target as I could be.”

As Cusano recalls, “Was I nervous about Ashante’s race? No, but I could see signs of fatigue from her racing eight times over a three-day span at the biggest meet of the season. But what she expected from herself was greatness and she achieved it.”

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Equestrian holds reins to top 10 ranking

Kurtz Rossi Equestrian 1

Allegra Kurtz-Rossi ’15 competing in the 2013 Intercollegiate Horse Show Association Nationals

Allegra Kurtz-Rossi ’15 has been riding horses since she was 11 years old, but she had never participated in a national equestrian competition until last spring as a member of the Wheaton Equestrian Team.

Her first gallop into the national arena paid off big time. Competing against representatives from more than 100 schools, Kurtz-Rossi placed 10th in the nation in the walk-trot-canter category of the 2013 Intercollegiate Horse Show Association Nationals held last spring in Harrisburg, Pa.

“It was an amazing experience,” says Kurtz-Rossi, who this year is one of the equestrian team’s captains. “I had never competed in such a large horse show before, so I was pretty nervous, especially being the only representative for Wheaton’s team.”

Kurtz-Rossi had qualified to show at the nationals by becoming the champion in her division at the New England regional finals held at Mount Holyoke College last spring.

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