Lions take top times into start of semester

Kicking off the winter 2013 season on a strong note, the men’s and women’s track and field teams have proven to be on top of their game. Placing third at the NYU Challenge on Jan. 19, the women’s team was the top Divison III team at the meet with a total of 63 points. The men’s team took sixth at the meet with a total of 46 points and several ECAC qualifying marks.

“We bring out the best in each other every day at practice and are very supportive of each other,” freshman Peter Okoh said. “We have really strong leaders on the team. They lead by example and help out as much as they can.”

D'Aiutolo jumps to new heights. (Courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

Okoh, who took seventh in the 60-meter dash at NYU, started off his first season with the Lions with two qualifying times for the ECAC’s at the New York Road Runners Night at the Armory I on Jan. 12. Okoh qualified with a time of 7.08 seconds in the 60-meter dash and in the 200-meter dash with a time of 22.80.

“I had a decent opener but there’s definitely more room for improvement,” Okoh said. “Right now I’m looking to stay healthy throughout the season and compete as much as I can at a high level and remain one of the top sprinters in the conference.”

Head coach Phil Jennings was excited with the success of the freshman.

“(Okoh) has had tremendous growth over the past few months as an athlete, both with his dedication to the sport and training as well as his understanding of what it will take to get him to the next level,” Jennings said. “He is off to a great start, particularly for a freshman.”

Men’s senior captain Steven D’Aiutolo also had a terrific showing last Saturday night, winning the triple jump with an ECAC qualifying mark of 47.24 ft.

In addition, the women’s team took the top two spots in the triple jump last Saturday night. Freshman Courtney Paciulli qualified for the ECAC’s after winning the event with a distance of 36.12 feet. Junior Erica Roberts took second with a distance of 35.13 feet.

The women’s team continued its success in the high jump when junior Brigit Roemer took second with a height of 5.4 feet, qualifying her for ECAC’s. Roemer is currently ranked fifth in the nation in the triple jump.

The men’s team has also proven to be a strong force in the field. Senior Julio Alorro placed third in pole vault last Saturday night and started off the season with a height of 15 feet, finishing second at the Armory.

“I’m definitely happy that I cleared 15 feet in my first indoor meet of the season, but it’s far from where I want to be,” Alorro said. “I definitely want to keep clearing higher heights as the season progresses.”

“Julio has big plans for this season after finishing off his junior year with a 12th-place finish at outdoor NCAA’s and is off to a very good start,” Jennings said.

Sophomore Liz Johnson also had an ECAC qualifying time, finishing fifth in the 1,000-meter race with an impressive time of 3:04.46.

The women’s 4×400-meter relay team kicked off their season at Princeton University at the New Year Invitational on Dec. 9 with an ECAC qualifying mark of 4:02.00. The team consisted of sophomore Michelle Cascio, junior Emily Kulcyk, senior Brielle Doremus and sophomore Katelyn Ary.

Ary has been continuously performing well for the Lions this season after just returning from knee surgery.

“With the help of the athletic trainers and coaches, I have been able to return to competition after my knee surgery with times equal to or faster than this point last year,” said Ary. “I have to limit my practices to once or twice a week, which is frustrating, but I have been putting in the hard work and I am looking forward to the rest of the season.”

Following the pattern of reaching ECAC qualifying times, senior Alex Brown and freshman Laron Day each qualified for the ECAC in the 500-meter. Brown finished fifth with a time of 1:06.61 and Day finished seventh with a mark of 1:06.98.

Freshman hurdler Zachary Errichetti has enjoyed being a part of the men’s track and field team and being led by the upperclassmen thus far in his first season with the Lions.

“Joining the team as a freshman has been one of the most humbling experiences,” Errichetti said. “The level of athleticism, intensity and commitment of every member of this team is astonishing. Being a member of this team has been difficult, and doesn’t look as if it will let up anytime soon, but it has been worth every minute.”

The team will return to action Thursday, Jan. 24 for the Haverford College Invitational. They look to get back in the swing of things as the semester starts up.

“Our training as a team has been limited over the past few weeks since dorms aren’t open yet, and that puts us at a disadvantage to many other schools that are welcome back early to campus to train and compete,” Jennings said. “Moreover, school starts about a week later than last year, so there is even more time before we can train as a group. We’ve also had a fair amount of sickness recently with a number of people having been sidelined by the flu and it seems to take a couple of weeks for the more severe cases to see true recovery. As a result of all of these factors, I expect that the team as a whole will improve significantly from week to week in this early part of the season.”