Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Women's track and field | Dormon's remarkable season continues

They call her PR Paula. No, the freshman shot-putter from Brockton, Mass., isn't pursuing a career as a media spin doctor. The nickname comes from the seemingly limitless potential of Paula Dormon, who has set personal records every single week this season.

Starting the season at the Husky Carnival at Northeastern in December, Dormon was throwing just 30'11.25", a rather undistinguished mark for collegiate athletes, as well as for Dormon herself, who threw 33'10" in high school for Tabor Academy.

She steadily improved upon that number after the winter break, throwing 33'04" at the first Tufts Invitational on Jan. 14 and then a remarkable 37'03" just one week later. That mark was good enough to qualify for the Div. III New England Regional Championships (Div. III's).

Her coach, Lisa Wallin, helped her with a new technique heading into the meet and the results were immediate. Improving four feet in one weekend is more than just an anomaly; it's utterly unheard-of.

"We were all just confused," Dormon said. "Something just went right that day."

Having lost seniors Jessica Colby and Katie Antle to graduation, the Jumbos were happy to have a complement to sophomore Sarah Martin at Div. III's.

But Dormon didn't just stop at 37'.

Over the following two weeks at the Bowdoin Invite and the third Tufts Invitational, Dormon added another 1.5 feet to her shot put mark, throwing 38'10.5" for third place at the Tufts Invite III. The following week at the MIT Invitational, Dormon did more than just add on to her personal best - She won the event with a throw of 39'01.25".

Heading into Div. III's, the Jumbos were in need of scorers who could help them catch three-time champion Williams. As a first-year thrower, Dormon wasn't expected to provide much help, but she ended up taking fourth in the shot, adding another foot onto her personal best (40'02.25") and providing a much-needed five points. Her new best was almost ten feet farther than the throw that started her season.

"It feels great," Dormon said. "My main goal was to make it to Div. III's and break 35'. Just even getting to 37' was amazing enough for me."

Although the Jumbos eventually fell to the Ephs, it was a moral victory for Dormon, who, on her recruiting visit to Williams, was told by coach Rick White that there was no room on the Ephs' squad for a 33' shot-putter.

"He was telling me to look at Amherst and Tufts," Dormon said. "I didn't want to do track anymore because I was sad about it. So it felt really good when I beat one of their girls.

Coach Kristen Morwick was more than happy to have Dormon on the team at Div. III's. She ultimately finished just 1.5 feet behind Williams' top shot putter, senior tri-captain Katie Krause, and ahead of Ephs junior Abelee Esparza. Additionally, her throw of 40'02.25" has her only two feet off of the NCAA provisional qualifying mark of 42'01.5".

"Hopefully it keeps going," Dormon said. "My coach has been working me very hard and she believes in me. Since she believes in me, I believe in myself."

Dormon will compete this weekend with other members of the Jumbos at the Trinity College Last Chance Meet at Yale to see if she can hit the mark and qualify for the NCAA Championships, which take place in two weeks.

"[Wallin] told me 'You will throw 40 [feet] this year,'" Dormon said. "Although I didn't believe it, it happened, so hopefully something will happen this weekend as well."

"We're thrilled to have her," Morwick said. "And 42 feet is not out of the realm of possibility. She improves on a daily basis."