By Gregory Leddy
The track and field teams turned in an exciting week of performances in two prestigious, competitive invitationals — the Larry Ellis Invitational, hosted by Princeton University, on Friday, April 20 and the Greyhound Invitational, hosted by Moravian College, from Friday to Saturday, April 21.
Some of the Lion runners were fortunate enough to be admitted into the Larry Ellis Invitational, including senior Dale Johnson and freshman Robert Abrams in the unseeded 5000-meter event.
The 5000-meter event gave Abrams and Johnson a shot at a sub-15 minute time and Abrams took on the early lead to try and set an even pace for the two of them. Abrams and Johnson hung tight to the pack throughout the race until the furious last 800-meters, led by senior Blake Brancato of the New Jersey Institute of Technology and sophomore Paul Nichols of Villanova University.
Abrams made a big push in the final lap of the race and came up just seconds short of sub-15, running at 15:07.04. Johnson, running at 15:20.57, was not far behind.
At the Greyhound Invitational, several impressive performances helped boost the team’s overall confidence and morale.
Senior Nicholas Genoese took second place in the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.05, a personal best, after dominating the preliminary heat. Genoese came back to run the 200-meter event, placing fifth overall in 22.97.
The 800-meter event was one of the highlights of the men’s events, as juniors Jack Wood and Noah Osterhus both crossed the finish line first and second in 1:54.82, finishing less than a hundredth of a second apart. Wood and Osterhus worked together to set a fast pace, taking the first lap out in 56.7 seconds and closing at a nearly even split.
Sophomore Mike Zurzolo fought hard in the 3000-meter steeplechase, placing third and running at 9:58.23, a personal record that represents his first recorded time under 10 minutes.
The crown of the men’s performances was the victory at the 4×400-meter relay, comprised of Noah Osterhus, sophomore Andrew Dyer, junior Nathan Osterhus and Wood. Noah had put the team in the lead early on with an incredible 49-second opening leg, but it was Dyer, who set a 1,500-meter personal record of 4:04.71 earlier during the meet, that ran a crucial third leg of 54.6 to keep the team in contention for the win.
The women recorded some spectacular performances as well. In the 200-meter event, senior Danielle Celestin, freshman Jada Grisson and sophomore Allison Zelinski swept the top three spots, running 26.15, 26.52 and 26.93, respectively. Grisson and Celestin also placed second and third in the 100-meter dash earlier, running 12.57 and 12.60 respectively. Zelinski placed second in the long jump with a mark of 5.47 meters.
Junior Emma Bean put up a great fight in the 5000-meter event, running 18:36 for fourth place. Senior Sarah Hughes of Moravian College and senior Jamie Pacilio of Muhlenberg College pulled away from Bean over the last 3200-meters, but Bean still came away with a great time.
Sophomore Kaila Carter won the 100-meter hurdles in 15.11, dominating a final field comprised of athletes from only the College and Lehigh University. Carter captured the win by a large margin of over half a second while freshman Annette Wanjiku and junior Abigail Rizzo placed third and fifth, respectively. Finally, the 4×100-meter ‘A’ team placed second in the event, while the 4×400-meter ‘A’ team placed third.
The Lions will be in action this weekend at the Penn Relays, the annual relay competition hosted by the University of Pennsylvania at Franklin Field from Thursday, April 26 to Saturday, April 28 in Philadelphia.
The College will host the Lions’ Invitational from Friday, April 27 to Saturday, April 28 at the track and field complex. The Lions look to create many exciting performances as the team prepares for the New Jersey Athletic Conference championships.