Those bright yellow spikes powered their way through the anchor leg of the men’s 4×400-meter relay, trailing behind the rival. As the final lap was underway, with 200 meters left in the race, the crowd exploded with an electrifying cheer as the yellow spikes kicked into gear, speeding up and ultimately taking first place in the last 10 meters to win the event with a time of 3:22.27.
The owner of the yellow spikes, senior Steve D’Aiutolo, has certainly wasted no time this season in bringing success to his team.
“I try to make sure that the team sees me giving my full effort and taking care of myself because I can’t tell them to do something if I’m not doing it (myself),” D’Aiutolo said. “I strive to lead by example.”
The men’s and women’s winter track and field team fell to their rivals at Rider University in an annual dual meet at The Lawrenceville School on Saturday, Feb. 2, but hit several ECAC qualifying marks and personal best performances.
“It’s fantastic,” senior Mary Chismar said in regard to the performances. “The team as a whole has progressed so much already. It’s looking great.”
Chismar competes in the shot put and the weight throw for the Lions, continuously proving to be a solid asset as she impressively took up the weight throw for the first time as freshman at the College, because the event is illegal in high school. She took third in the shot put at the meet with a solid ECAC qualifying throw of 11.59 meters.
“A lot of new people have stepped up this year,” Chismar said.
But after mentioning the girls’ loss of their NJAC title last year, her ultimate goal was clear: to take back the NJAC title. And they are certainly on the right track in doing so.
The Lions shined in the triple jump with junior Erica Roberts jumping an ECAC qualifying distance of 11.12 meters, while freshman Courtney Paciulli also qualified for ECACs with a mark of 11.02 meters.
On the men’s side, with no surprise, D’Aiutolo was back and won the triple jump with an ECAC qualifying jump of 15.58 meters.
“I only jump twice a week because of how painful it is on your body,” D’Aiutolo said as he joked about consistently needing to take hot baths for his body. “The hardest part is taking care of you body.”
While the physical toll of a season is certainly rough, D’Aiutolo seems to be doing just fine as he has consistently won the triple jump several times this season already, one step closer toward his lofty, but certainly attainable, goals of making it to nationals, defending the men’s NJAC title, winning the ECACs, and becoming an All-American.
The high jump also highlighted nationally ranked junior Brigit Roemer, who took second in the event with an ECAC qualifying jump of 1.65 meters.
In addition, the men’s 200 meter included junior Michael Spekhardt with a second place finish of 22.76.
Spekhardt was very happy with his performance at the meet as he achieved a personal best in the event and later went on to perform well as the anchor in the 4×200-meter relay.
“I think everyone’s got the right mindset,” Spekhardt said. “It’s important to be focused as we train to go against the best teams.”
Although he performed well for the Lions at the dual meet, Spekhardt’s mind is looking ahead to the NJACs coming up and the ECACs. Spekhardt is extremely proud of the underclassmen on his 4×200 meter relay team for stepping up this season as he looks to repeat a win in the relay at the ECACs.
“We have a huge target on our backs,” Spekhardt said. “I’d like to stay where we are at the top of that, the king of the hill.”
As a junior, Spekhardt’s head is in the right place with his goals and priorities set toward looking for a successful season, but he still manages to keep his heart in the right place as well, simply saying, “It’s a pleasure doing this.”
Back on the women’s side, assistant coach Justin Lindsey has been extremely impressed with senior Brielle Doremus this year.
“She has really turned into a leader her senior year,” Lindsey said. “She has become a national caliber athlete.”
Doremus, who has been a huge factor in the success of the women’s 4×400 meter relay, explained that there are not many seniors this year, so she felt the need to step up.
“We’ve been focusing on coming together more as a team,” Doremus said. “I’ve been trying to facilitate that.”
Doremus competed in her first pentathlon last week, a combination of five events, and is pleasantly surprised by her performance. She will continue to work towards qualifying for nationals in the event along with the 4×400 meter relay.
The women’s 3,000 meters also highlighted second place Tara Nealon with a time of 10:45.32 and third place Cathy Goncalves with a time of 11:01.46.
In addition, sophomore Liz Johnson took second in a gutsy 1,000 meter race with a time of 3:04.58.
“We are really coming together as a team at the right time,” Johnson said, who has planned on stepping up this year in order to encourage her teammates.
Johnson really only had one thing to say, summing up the team’s all around positive mindset into two simple words: “Go Lions.”