Lions prepare for National Championships

By Nicole DeStefano
Staff Writer

The men’s and women’s track and field team fought to runner-up finishes at the 2017 New Jersey Athletic Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships held at the Ocean Breeze Athletic Club in Staten Island, N.Y., on Feb. 20.

The men’s team finished in second place with a total of 145 points, 51 points ahead of third place Stockton University, but fell to Rowan University, who finished with 245 points.

Cooper finishes first in the 500-meter race. (Courtesy of Sports Information Desk)

Senior Jake Lindacher had two successful performances. He finished second place in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.19 and placed third in the 60-meter dash, clocking in at 7.00.

Sophomore Nathan Osterhus also impressed on the track. He sprinted in a time of 22.80, finishing in third place at the 200-meter dash. Junior Nicholas Genoese followed in fourth place with a time of 22.95. Osterhus returned in the 400-meter dash, where he finished second with a time of 50.68.

In the distance events, Senior Andrew Tedeschi had an outstanding performance in the 5000-meter event. He finished first with a time of 15:08.10. He was followed by sophomore Matt Saponara, who finished second with an impressive time of 15:17.91.

“The 5K on Sunday was a step in the right direction,” Tedeschi said. “After not racing too well in Boston, I mainly wanted to stay I mainly wanted to stay competitive, be efficient and help my teammates run a fast time. It was nice to finally win an NJAC race, however, it’s time to look forward and set up big goals for my final season outdoors. I want to end my running career on a high note.”

It was nice to finally win an NJAC race, however, it’s time to look forward and set up big goals for my final season outdoors. I want to end my running career on a high note.”

Freshman Mike Zurzolo stepped up big when he placed second in the 3000-meter race, with a personal best time of 8:55.18. Quinn Wasko followed in third with a time of 8:58.76. In the mile run, the duo of senior Brandon Mazzarella and freshman Jake Dinerman finished in fourth and fifth place, respectively.

Mazzarella crossed the finish line with a time of 4:21.34 and Dinerman in 4:22.49.

In the field events, Chris Guglielmo finished his last indoor championships on a high note. The senior won the pole vault with a clear of 4.65 meters. Freshman John Otters placed sixth in the event with a best of 3.80 meters.

“I was happy with my performance,” Guglielmo said. “My main goal of the meet was to win my event, and I accomplished that. I would have liked to have cleared a higher height and put myself closer to becoming a national qualifier but, I can’t be upset with the win.”

The Lady Lions also had an exceptional performance at conference championships. The Lions amassed 181 points, falling just 21 points short to Rowan University.

In the 5000-meter event, sophomore Natalie Cooper stole the show. She took first with an impressive time of 18:29.73. Sophomore Madeleine Tattory followed in second with a time of 18:35.95.

“My main goal this spring is to get healthy and qualify for nationals in the 5K,” Cooper said. “I have been injured for most of this season. I’m hoping to get healthy and back to training.”

Sophomore Erin Holzbaur also had a big day. She finished third in both the mile run and 3000-meter event. Sophomore Abigail Faith finished sixth in the mile with a time of 5:20.55, while junior Caroline Moore and senior Laura Straub finished fifth and sixth in the 3000-meter event with times of 11:01.72 and 11:05.48, respectively.

In the 800-meter dash, sophomore Kathleen Jaeger defended her title and secured 10 points for the Lions. She crossed the line in first place with a time of 2:17.35.

Junior Jenna Ellenbacher and freshman Samantha Gorman captured first and second place, respectively, in the 400-meter dash. Freshman duo Kaila Carter and Kristen Hall placed fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 60-meter hurdles.

For the field events, senior Tracy Prentice was runner-up in the pole vault, with a clear of 3.10 meters. Freshman Angela Rambert also placed second in the shot put with a season-best throw of 11.43 meters. The trio of junior Amanda Cucarese, freshman Allison Zelinski and Hall placed third, fourth, and fifth, respectively, in the long jump.

“The plan is to keep everyone committed to the same goal and that is to support each other and focus on competing,” head coach Justin Lindsey said. “We tell our athletes to have fun going against all competition and believe they deserve to come out on top. With a very young team, this is important to learn early as they improve and see more elite competition.”

The women’s and men’s team will compete in one last qualifying meet this winter season, the Tufts final qualifying meet on Friday, March 3. The Lions hope to use the meet as an opportunity to advance more athletes to the NCAA Indoor Division III Track and Field Championships on March 10 and March 11.