By Nicole DeStefano
For some of the Lions, it was their last opportunity to perform at the annual TCNJ Invitational Meet this past Sunday, April 10. For others, it was the first time they laced up their spikes to compete on the College’s track, a second home for the Lions. Both the men’s and women’s track teams took advantage of performing on their turf and put forth several top performances and personal bests.
“It was pretty exciting coming into the first home meet. It’s home — it’s our track,” senior Courtney Paciulli said.
Paciulli performed tremendously at her last TCNJ Invitational meet. She landed a first place victory in the triple jump with a distance of 11.07 and returned to the sand for a third-place finish in the long jump at 4.93 meters.
“I’ve been hurt pretty much since my junior year, so it was really just staying healthy through every jump,” Paciulli said. “Obviously, the goal was to move up in rankings in the (New Jersey Athletic Conference) and I did that. Distance wasn’t necessarily what I was thinking about.”
Sophomore Danielle Celestin sprinted to a second-place finish in the 200-meter dash with a time of 26.84 and took fifth in the 100-meter dash, clocking in at 12.92.
In the 400-meter race, senior Joy Spriggs finished second with a quick time of 58.49. Senior Kristen Rudolph placed second in the 400-meter hurdles, clocking in at 1:04.58.
Spriggs and Rudolph returned for the 4×400-meter relay alongside sophomore Emily Mead and Amanda Cucarese. The lady Lions led off with an early lead and finished in first with a time of 4:02.71.
On the distance side, sophomore Allison Fournier won the 1,500-meter race in 5:02.98, followed by senior Kayla Glynn with a time of 5:10.44.
The Lions also found success on the field. Senior Allison Ruszczyk threw a distance of 31.15 meters in the hammer throw to take second place and freshman Stephanie Wolfer secured second place with a season-best throw of 34.04 meters.
On the men’s side, the Lions swept the 3,000-meter event. Freshman Matt Saponara took first place in his debut performance on his home track, clocking in at 8:57.37.
“My teammates and I worked really well together,” Saponara said. “We ended up taking all the top spots, so that was really good for us. We all alternated taking the lead and picked it up at some points. It was definitely a better team performance than it was individual for any of us.”
Sophomore Dale Johnson followed in second with a personal best time of 9:00.47. Freshman Quinn Wasko and Brian Mitchell also made their college debut in the 3,000-meter event, finishing with times of 9:03.86 and 9:04.45, respectively.
Freshman Noah Osterhus took advantage of competing on his home track and posted a tremendous time of 48.84 in the 400-meter race. He placed second and demolished his previous time of 49.72.
Senior Laron Day secured a second-place victory in the 400-meter hurdles with a second-place finish of 55.06. Senior Mike Larkin followed in third with a time of 55.90.
The Lions also found success in the jumping events. Junior Chris Guglielmo took second place in the pole vault with 4.35 meters and Larkin also impressed with a fourth-place high jump of 1.88 meters.
“I think the jumps crew is really coming along here,” jumping events coach Peter Cane said. “We’ve put a lot of time into certain aspects of the technique and now, as we’re moving into competitions and championship season right around the corner, we’re looking to really go full approaches and big jumps and everyone knows it’s about to click.”
Day, Noah, Nathan Osterhus and freshman Kamal Williams took the track for the last race of the day to win the 4×400-meter relay with their best time of 3:19.1.
“This meet definitely boosted some morale — home meets always do that,” Paciulli said. “We had some pretty good performances in Virginia last week, so I think everyone was excited to come into the home meet and get some good performances on the track.”