Those 6 a.m. practices seem be doing the trick as the College’s men’s and women’s indoor track team has continued to impress.
Recording one of the fastest Division III times this season, the men’s distance medley relay crossed the finish line in first place at 10:15:99, meeting ECAC qualifying standards. The dominating relay was run by junior Dominic Tasco, sophomore Erik Moutenot, senior Steve D’Aiutolo and senior Michael Berti at the non-team scoring, New York University Challenge Meet on Friday, Feb. 15.
“It felt good to decisively win the race,” Berti said. “At ECACs, the DMR is historically very competitive, so qualifying for that is the key to getting in that fast paced race and producing a nationals qualifying time.”
As the relay prepares for ECACs, Berti has expressed his confidence in the relay team as a whole because of returning runners, great alternates and a great team chemistry stemming from friendships off the track.
“We have some very competitive runners on that relay,” Berti said. “A lot of success comes from a desire to win.”
But before the ECACs, the NJACs will be an extremely important meet for the Lions, as both teams have made it clear that their number one goal is to not only run fast times, but also to win the indoor NJAC title.
“The only real goal at this point is to win the NJACs and keep the men’s streak alive,” junior James Seyffart said. “We’ve won the past 15 indoor NJAC titles.”
Seyffart was part of the men’s 4×800-meter relay that placed second, clocking in at a time of 8:03.36 along with Berti, sophomore Jeremy Garell and junior Mike Jones.
“Part of our success was due to the fact that we had a couple of guys with fresh legs for the race,” Seyffart said. “Mike Jones anchored our race in 1:59 and the three of us put him in a good position to run for the win.”
The women’s 4×800-meter relay finished with a fourth-place effort by senior Cathy Goncalves, junior Sarah Polansky, freshman Kelly Williamson and sophomore Meghan Kocher with a time of 10:07.89.
“As a freshman it was really exciting to be a part of the race,” freshman Kelly Williamson said. “I felt comfortable leading off the race for my teammates and it was a great experience.”
The women also had several athletes with ECAC qualifying performances, including the second place finish in the shot put by senior Mary Chismar, throwing 11.93 meters.
In addition, junior Katie Knight and sophomore Tara Nealon were among the ECAC qualifying performances at the meet, despite placing seventh in their respective races. Knight ran the 60-meter high hurdles with a time of 9.41, while Nealon crossed the finish line of the 3,000-meter race with a time of 10:33.25.
“I was really excited,” Nealon said. “
It was one of my goals going into the season to qualify for ECACs.”
Nealon is currently pleased with her season thus far after coming back from missing the indoor season last year with a stress fracture.
Back on the men’s side, junior Julio Alorro also had a first place performance in the pole vault, clearing the bar at an ECAC qualifying height of 4.55 meters.
The Lady Lions also had sophomore Katelyn Ary run an ECAC qualifier time of 2:18.12 in the 800-meter run, while freshman Kristen VanBenschoten proved herself in the shot put, placing fourth with a throw of 11.31 meters.
“Off the track, just making sure you’re getting enough sleep is key,” Nealon said. “On the track, you have to be able to stay positive through the workouts and the races, sometimes it’s as much mental as it is physical.”
Head coach Phil Jennings is also pleased with his athlete’s recent performances this season. He also talked about the important characteristics he expects his athletes to have throughout the season which have led to their continued success.
“We look for good student athletes that love the sport and love to compete,” Jennings said. “We expect our athletes to buy into being part of something that is bigger than themselves: the team.”