By Gregory Leddy
The College hosted the 2018 Lions Invitational track and field meet from Friday, April 27 to Saturday, April 28. Some Lions also attended the Penn Relays Distance Carnival in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from Thursday, April 26 to Saturday, April 28.
The annual Lions Invitational serves as both a competitive track meet and a celebration of team culture. Former Lions athletes returned to run the Alumni Mile and to witness the senior appreciation ceremony, which highlighted the team’s graduating seniors’ impact on the team.
The home meet was especially key for the teams in the New Jersey Athletic Conference, as the College will serve as the host of this year’s NJAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Athletes from the likes of Rowan University and Ramapo College had the opportunity to get a feel for the environment in which they will be competing in this coming weekend.
While the College is saving its best performances for the championship meet, the Lions Invitational served as an ideal tuneup for athletes seeking to set themselves up for stronger seeds.
The men’s highlights included the 1,500-meter race, in which senior Dale Johnson, freshman Robert Abrams and junior Luke Prothero took spots two through four and all finished within three seconds of each other. Both Johnson and Abrams set personal records, running 3:55.50 and 3:56.83, respectively. Prothero, who ran 3:58.39, was less than a second away from his own personal best of 3:57.48.
The 5,000-meter race was also tightly packed, as freshman Joseph Erskine, junior Quinn Wasko and freshman Noah Preihs took the third, fourth and fifth places, respectively.
In the 400-meter hurdles, freshman Tana Gawe put on a great performance, running a personal best of 55.92 and placing third overall.
The triple jump victory was taken by junior Andrew McNutt, who jumped 14.25 meters to beat Rowan senior Harrison Escoffery by 0.22 meters.
The women’s highlights include freshman Jada Grisson’s third place finish in the 100-meter event, running 12.80, as well as her fourth place finish in the 200-meter in 26 seconds. Senior Danielle Celestin was second in the 200-meter, running 25.88.
Sophomore Katie LaCapria won the 800-meters in a region-leading time of 2:14.57 for third overall. LaCapria currently leads the conference in the 800-meter event by a comfortable margin of nearly three seconds.
In the 100-meter hurdles, sophomore Kaila Carter battled to the wire with Rider University freshman Joshonda Johnson, eventually placing second with a time of 15.01.
Senior Jenna Ellenbacher earned an exciting win in the 400-meter hurdles, running 1:03.82.
Ellenbacher came back to anchor the winning 4×400-meter ‘A’ team, along with Emily Hirsch, Dana DeLuca and LaCapria, that clocked 4:03.41.
The 4×100-meter ‘A’ team of Grisson, DeLuca, Carter and Celestin got the victory with a time of 48.59.
In the field events, freshman Tamika Voltaire placed third in the high jump with a mark of 1.55 meters, and junior Stephanie Wolfer threw 36.33 meters in the javelin for third place overall.
At the Penn Relays, the women turned in some of the most notable performances of the weekend. In the 3,000-meter steeplechase, junior Erin Holzbaur set a new region-leading time of 10:50.07 for ninth in her heat.
While there are a number of great performances to speak of this weekend, the main focus for the Lions this week is gearing up for the conference championship. The meet will take place at the College’s track and field complex from Saturday, May 5 to Sunday, May 6.