College runners shatter school records; Lion athletes fly past competition in Boston

Senior Jianna Spadaccini. (Courtesy Sports Information Desk)
Senior Jianna Spadaccini. (Courtesy Sports Information Desk)

The indoor track and field team had two record-breaking performances during their meets in New York City and Boston this past weekend.

At the Valentine’s Invitational at Boston University, senior sprinters Deshard Stevens and Jianna Spadaccini broke the College’s 500-meter and 800-meter records with times of 1:04.22 and 2:10.57 respectively. Spadaccini’s time was a provisional National qualifier.

Senior Priscilla Senyah broke her own school record in the 55-meter hurdles with a swift time of 8.21 seconds. The girls’ Distance Medley Relay team of Spadaccini, fellow senior Michelle Wallace, junior Meryl Wimberly, and sophomore Katie Nestor also broke the school record and ran an automatic National qualifier with an 11:46.66. Junior distance runner Dennis Waite also ran a provisional National qualifier in the mile with a 4:11.64, while junior Rob Nihen ran an Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) qualifier in the 5,000-meters with a 14:57.

“Boston is a big trip for relays and distance runners,” Waite said. “It has a lot of deep competition. Rider-Lafayette is also a very solid meet, but it isn’t as competitive at the very top.”

The Rider-Lafayette Invitational at the 168th Street Armory in NYC was the second time the College raced against Rider this season. Last week the boys’ team fell 85-78. But the surprising loss motivated the team to perform better. Sophomore Justin Worthing took first out of 48 runners in the 500-meters with a time of 1:04.50, only 28 hundredths of a second behind Stevens’ record in Boston. Also performing well was the men’s 4×400 relay team of Worthing, juniors Jule Brooks and Kyle Gilroy, as well as freshman Robert Searby. They finished second with an ECAC-qualifying time of 3:17.38. With the indoor season winding down, the Lions have a busy schedule ahead of them. Next week they will return to the Armory to participate in the New Jersey Athletic Conference Championship (NJAC) on February 22nd. The College Indoor Track team has never lost the NJACs and plan to keep the streak alive this year.

“After this weekend, I am pretty confident that both our men’s and women’s team will sweep the NJAC title once again,” Stevens said.

Just four days later, the Lions will race one last time at the New York University Fast Track Invite, the final opportunity for individuals on the team to qualify for the ECAC at the end of the season on March 5-6. Some of the Lions have already qualified by meeting a preset standard in any given event.

The same type of rule applies to the NCAA Division III Track and Field Championships March 12-13. The times that Spadaccini, Waite and the girls distance medley relay ran this weekend bring them once step closer, as the NCAA takes the top 16 times in each event. Even with the underlying pressure of qualifying for multiple championships at every race, the Lions continue to keep their cool and stay focused on the task at hand.

“Our team is on a good pace to place high at nationals this year, having several people already qualified,” Stevens said. “As a team, we are establishing a name for ourselves, showing why (the College’s track and field team) is the best program in the State and one of the best in the country.”