Albany Times Union
Boham achieved magical Ivy crown
Ama Boham of Valatie, a senior at Cornell, pulled off the upset of the meet at the Ivy League Indoor Track Championships at Dartmouth. It was her best individual performance in the 60-meter hurdles at the perfect moment and earned her a spot in the Cornell record books.
The Ichabod Crane graduate, a three-time state champion in the 100-meter hurdles, looks back on the race as a surreal ending to a freakish winter month.
She started the indoor season strong, tying her personal best 60-meter hurdle time. “Things were looking good,” she said.
But in the beginning of February she became ill, testing positive for COVID-19. After 10 days off to recuperate, isolate and rest, her comeback races leading up to the Ivy League Championship were disappointing.
“I was horrible,” she said. “It ended up being a process of being able to trust myself and my body again because of how poorly I had run. I had a week to trick my brain into, and my body into, getting better and believing that I could run a time that I really wanted to run.”
She was aiming for the school record, set by her former teammate, All-american Brooke Overholt, who is finishing her track and field career as a graduate student at Vanderbilt.
Boham felt good after the first day, knowing she could improve her fifth-place qualifying time of 8.58.
“I think my coach noticed how much my demeanor had changed. I ran a time the first day that felt like it was where I should be. And I was
“It ended up being a process of being able to trust myself and my body again because of how poorly I had run. I had a week to trick my brain into, and my body into, getting better and believing that I could run a time that I really wanted to run.”
very excited because I didn’t think my start out of the box was very fast. And there’s a weird situation at the finish line at Dartmouth where there’s two lines. A lot of my teammates were warning me, don’t lean at the wrong line. And I ended up doing exactly that. So then I said to myself, what if I fix that and fix my start? I think that I can get the school record and I can win the finals,” she said.
Her coach, Adrian Durant, a former Olympic sprinter, gave her the pep talk she needed after COVID knocked her down and she was struggling to regain her form.
“You have no choice but to just believe that you can do it,” he told her.
Her parents also stepped in. After her rough meet in Boston, they drove her back to the Capital
Region for more rest and some home-cooking.
Her dad Eric Boham, a teacher in the South Colonie School District, is the cook in the family. Her mom, Elizabeth Boham, is a medical doctor board certified in family medicine and specializing in functional medicine. Both of her parents are Cornell graduates and her brother Eric Tismark Boham also attends Cornell.
A third inspiration from an unexpected source assisted in Boham’s mental preparation at Dartmouth.
“Last semester I volunteered in a prison and there’s someone that I spoke with who was supposed to be playing Division I basketball, but he got caught up in a situation when he was 18 and has been in prison for 10 years. And he was like, I just miss it so much,” she said.
When she arrived at the championships, that discussion was in
her mind. It made her refocus away from the negative and into the positive.
“This is my last year and I just want to have a good time,” she told herself.
Her prison volunteer service stemmed from her studies. With a major in policy analysis and management, she is interested in a career working in criminal justice reform. Her hero is Angela Davis. She’s considering law school. She has big dreams.
Years from now she’ll remember every detail of her last indoor meet, known as the “Heps” for its historic name, the Ivy League
Heptagonal Championships, held on Feb. 24 and 25.
She was in lane two, next to one of the favorites in the race, Harvard’s Izzy Goudros. She edged out Goudros at the tape in 8.43. The school record was 8.44. In her final indoor race, she emerged as an Ivy League champion and record breaker.
The first person she hugged after the race was her close friend and training partner, Aniyah Hienski-walters, a sophomore hurdler. Cameras then focused on Boham getting mobbed by coaches and teammates.
Four of the eight competitors ran personal best times in that race. “That is as high drama as you’ll see,” said the ESPN streaming meet announcer.
“I didn’t know if I had won or not. I looked back at the leaderboard and it was just so surreal. I’ve been doing a lot of mind exercises where you feel the emotions that you want to have. It was insane that those emotions that I’ve been practicing I was actually feeling. It was just like a whole ’nother level,” she said.
Boham was selected for the 2022-23 Ivy League Women’s Indoor Track and Field Academic All-ivy team. One player from each school is named to that team. And her win earned her the Women’s Indoor Track and Field First Team All-ivy.