Lions stand up to Division I competition

This past weekend, the Lions’ outdoor track and field teams took on Division I opponents in the two-day Sam Howell Invitational, hosted by Princeton University.

“Everyone has a positive attitude toward the season,” head coach Eric Mobley said. “The team really competed well this week. We had individuals run events they never ran before, and everyone really just went out there to have fun.”

As the only NCAA Division III team in the field of the 4×100-meter relay, the men’s quartet picked up a seventh-place finish. Sophomore DeShard Stevens, senior Steven Murray and freshmen Jule Brooks and Kyle Gilroy achieved an Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC)-qualifying time of 44.23 seconds.

In the 400-meter intermediate hurdles, junior Al Wonesh ran a 56.52 (an ECAC-qualifying time) to finish the race in ninth place.

Freshman Tim Blashford and junior Pasquale DiGioacchino boasted additional ECAC marks. Blashford cleared 4.30 meters, a personal best, in the pole vault on his first attempt, and DiGioacchino placed 13th in the 400 meters in 50.65 seconds.

“We usually go to meets where we are one of few, if not the only, Division III school,” Blashford said. “When we go up against Division I schools we’re pushed a lot more, and this is probably the reason for the numerous ECAC qualifiers.”

Other highlights came in the 800-meter race. With three runners placing in the top 20, the College had a strong showing in the event. Freshman Dennie Waite captured 17th in 1:57.41. Senior Galen Johnson placed 18th (1:57.57). Senior Josh Krowicki completed the trio, crossing the finish line with a time of 1:57.60 (20th place).

The women had two runners meet NCAA provisional times. Junior Martine McGrath won the 10K in 36:08.02, and junior Stephanie Herrick took fourth in the 1,500-meter, clocking a time of 4:36.71.

McGrath, running the 10K for the first time in her career, surprised herself.

“I was really excited to run that fast,” McGrath said. “I got in a rhythm and before I knew it the race was almost done.”

Contributing to the rhythm of excellence, senior Jessica Bonelli collected three ECAC marks, including two individual marks. The later was met as a member of the 4×100 meter relay team. Unaided, Bonelli placed sixth in the 200 meter (25.79) and seventh in the 100 meter (12.79). Sophomore Pricilla Senyah, junior Kristen Tricocci and sophomore Meghan Miller accompanied Bonelli on the fifth-place relay team.

Senyah also earned double ECAC marks with her efforts in the 100-meter high hurdles (15.46 seconds). The College had two runners finish behind one another in the 400-meter, both of whom also met ECAC standards. Freshman Meryl Wimberly placed ninth in a time of 58.12, while sophomore Jianna Spadaccini was a stride behind, taking 10th in 58.48 seconds.

Sophomore Michelle Wallace finished the 3,000 meters in 10:40.57. Junior Megan Donovan crossed the finish of the 5,000 meters in a time of 18:40.98. Based on their times, both runners earned themselves a spot in the ECAC Championships.

This upcoming Saturday, the College will host the New Jersey Invitational. With crowd enthusiasm on their side, the team is expected to excel and make some serious impressions racing for the first time this season at home.

“Being at home usually brings more people you know,” said Blashford, “and it’s always meaningful to do well while your friends and family are watching.”