When parents always nag that ‘a little fresh air will do you good,” well, it turns out that they’re right again. The UR men’s and women’s track and field teams are one week into the outdoor season and already are at the tops of their games, with each taking first place at the UR Alumni Invitational this past weekend.

In win after win after win, the track teams dominated the home invitational: junior Daniel Lane won the steeplechase in 9:35.67. Sophomore James Vavra won the 10,000-meter run in 32:10.05. Freshman Zarah Quinn won the 1500 in 4:59.29. Freshman Justin Roncaioli took second in the steeplechase in 9:55.64.

Senior Suzanne Giunta won the steeplechase in 11:59.58. Junior Megan O’Connor won the 10,000 in 39.53.80. Senior Melissa Skevington won the long jump with a distance of 5.36 meters. Sophomore Nikita Bourque won the 800 in 2:25.71. And just to rub it in, the women’s 4×400 relay, well, they won, too.

‘Twenty-five laps on the track is pretty intimidating, so I decided if I was going to do it, I was going to make it worth it,” O’Connor said. ‘I think one of the best parts of the race was having the support from almost the whole team, it really pushed me through the middle miles.”

Almost all of those competitors qualified for the Eastern College Athletic Conference (as did the relay team), along with junior Jacqueline Cinella, who placed second in the 400-meter hurdles.

The women’s team came in first in a field of 14 teams, while the men’s team defeated 12 other schools. With a score of 229.7 points, the women’s team crushed all opposition SUNY Geneseo came in second with 120.10. The men’s team, with a score of 145.50 points, had more difficulty securing first, but managed to fend off Geneseo, which came in second with 143 points.

‘We won the team title by over 100 points this past weekend,” O’Connor said. ‘Every single person has been out there putting in the miles and practicing their technique.”

The home field advantage did not hurt either. Track is in the minority of sports that seldom plays at home, and indeed this is the first track meet of the season at UR.

‘It is just really nice to be able to throw on a circle you are used to throwing on every day,” senior thrower Ethan Kaplan said.

Kaplan, who took third in the hammer throw with a distance of 44.79 meters, had a lot of company in top-three territory. Juniors Jon Pinto and Craig Baumgartner took second and third, respectively, in the 10,000. Gregory Hartnett was second in the 1500.

For the women, senior Elise Scheid took third in the hammer throw. Senior Lisa Cole was second in the 1,500 and third in the 10,000. Freshman Kelly Mulrey placed second in the 100-meter, while sophomore Sarah Hutchinson was second in the 400.

Next week, the teams will travel to the Brockport Invitational where they hope to build on their momentum. Quinn, for her part, expects great things.

‘Our teams are very solid, consistent and well-rounded,” she said. ‘We will continue to be tough competitors when postseason arrives.”

Brenneman is a Take Five Scholar.

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