#retriever50for50 - Cleopatra Borel Throws Her Way to UMBC's First DI National Title

#retriever50for50 -    Cleopatra Borel Throws Her Way to UMBC's First DI National Title

Many of these stories in the #retriever50for50 countdown were authored by student-athletes that were either overlooked by bigger programs or weren't expected to contribute as much as they did when arriving on campus.

The student-athlete who is responsible for Moment No. 7 ended up at UMBC in a quirky fashion. She is also the only athlete in the countdown that is solely responsible for two distinct and historic events.

Cleopatra Borel had no athletic aspirations when she came to Baltimore from Trinidad & Tobago in 1997. She enrolled at Coppin State on the advice of her high school math teacher, a Coppin alum. A powerfully-built and eager young lady, she quickly developed in the throwing events and broke Coppin's shot put record early in her tenure there.

When the Eagles' coach left their program, UMBC coaches had seen her potential and became the only Division I school that would offer athletic scholarship money.

Borel flourished both academically and athletically at UMBC. She earned All-America honors (top eight) in the shot put both indoors and outdoors in the 2000-01 season. But she would have only one more crack at the NCAA's, with one year of indoor track & field eligibility remaining for the winter of 2002.

On March 9, 2002, Cleo took to the circle at the University of Arkansas' Randal Tyson Track Center.

On her next-to-last throw, Borel uncorked a personal best of 17.50 meters (57'5"), putting her in first place. When the last shot had hit the earth, the black-and-gold clad Retriever had outdistanced Kansas State's Austra Skujyte (55'9") and Iowa State's Lisa Griebel (54'10.25") and captured UMBC's first Division I national title.

Borel was also the first athlete competing under the banner of the Northeast Conference to win a national championship.

As mentioned a little earlier in the countdown, Borel has competed in four Olympic games and been a tremendous source of pride for her native country.

Borel has been tabbed to UMBC Athletics Hall of Fame, but her training and competition schedule have not afforded her the opportunity to attend a formal induction. But, one day, in the not-too-distant future, UMBC's lone national champion will get back to campus and assume her place as one of the university's finest student-athletes in its first half-century.