For the second consecutive week, the men’s track and field team competed at Cornell University. And once again the meet was deemed a success. Calling the meet as a whole “very good,” head coach John Izzo added that the team achieved its goal of “again qualifying a number of people for postseason meets.” Although Izzo said the team “rested some people in preparation for this weekend’s State meet,” he continued, “we had very good performances out of a lot people.”
He was quick to note freshman Tommy Hainsworth, who Izzo said “ran his best meet of the year.” After finishing fifth in his heat of the 60-meter dash, he was first overall in his section of the 200, an event dominated by UR runners. In section one of the 200, freshman Matt Tierney and junior Greg Dusek took first and second place with times of 22.83 and 23.13 seconds. Although Hainsworth ran in the second section, his time of 23.17 seconds put his time third overall, behind only his teammates.
Izzo also praised freshmen Kirk Bristol and Scott Bambrick, who he said “both had great meets.” Bristol added to the team’s dominance of the 200 with a first place finish in the third section of the event. Bambrick was third in section one and had the fourth fastest time overall in the 400. With a fifth place finish in section two of the 1,000-meter run, Izzo said that “Sophomore Matt Rodems ran really well and had a very good 1,000-meter race.”
Also putting together a strong performance was the throwing squad, who Izzo said “threw up a storm.” Junior Andy Wunder finished fifth in flight one of the weight throw with a mark of 15.40 meters. With a mark of 15.15 meters, senior Dan Quinn won flight two and his mark put him sixth overall, just behind Wunder. Wunder and Quinn also finished back to back in the shot put, placing ninth and tenth in flight one. The top shot put mark of the day from the UR team came from junior Zach Opsitnick, who marked 12.53 meters, putting him in sixth place in flight two. With a mark of 12.01 meters, junior Josh Hill also put together a solid performance, winning flight three of the shot put competition. Izzo said regarding the throwers, “Andy Wunder, Dan Quinn and the boys did a great job.”
The highlight of the day came in the 400-meter relay, which finished in first place. With a time of 3:25.16, the relay team ran well enough to qualify for ECAC’s. Overall, Izzo called the meet “a very good effort,” adding “we should get between 26 and 30 athletes qualified for the state meet.”
Izzo commended the younger members of his team on their strong performances, saying, “The freshmen and sophomores are doing a great job for us. We knew our young people were going to have to step up and do the job right away.” He also said that “the juniors and seniors are providing great leadership,” which will presumably be a very important factor as the team heads to State Championships this weekend.
The Cornell Invitational wasn’t the only meet that members of the UR team were involved with last weekend. Junior Jacob Budny and senior Jon Kaiser stayed home, instead competing in the State Pentathlon Championships on Sunday. After finishing first overall last year, the pressure was on Budny to repeat as champion. But after falling behind through the first four events, he needed to win the final event by four seconds to successfully defend last year’s victory. Instead of succumbing to the pressure, however, Budny won the 1,000-meter run by eight seconds, capping a 40-point comeback to repeat as champion.
Budny’s victory in the final event gave him a total of 3,413 points, 61 points ahead of the second place competitor, an athlete from Ithaca College that finished with 3,352 points.
In addition to winning the 1,000 meter run by eight seconds and setting a new personal record in that event, Budny also set personal bests in the 55-meter high hurdles and the shot put.
With 2,892 total points, Kaiser finished tenth overall. Despite his solid showing, he fell just shy of qualifying for East Coast Athletic Conference Championships. Izzo called Kaiser’s performance a “valiant effort,” adding that it was “unfortunate that he came up just short.”
For the second time this season, the men’s team will travel to St. Lawrence University, this time for New York State Championships. Izzo said that “already having the opportunity to run on it is going to be a plus.”
Although Izzo said “St. Lawrence is probably the favorite,” he continued, “it’s going to be very interesting.”
Of the fifteen teams going, about five of them have an honest chance of winning, and Izzo feels that the Yellowjackets are one of them.
But in order to win, everyone that goes to the meet will be expected to step up their performance. “We’re not taking anybody to the state meet for a free ride, everybody’s expected to perform,” said Izzo. Knowing that his team has trained and ran well all year, Izzo expects that the team will continue to do the same.
Swidler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.