Although the men’s track and field team did not dominate the competition the way it has over the past few weeks, the team once again put together a number of excellent individual performances and had what Coach John Izzo called “a great weekend.” During the first five weeks of the season, the men competed primarily against opponents from Division III schools, and were extremely successful against schools such as Rochester Institute of Technology, SUNY Brockport, SUNY Geneseo and SUNY Fredonia.

Last weekend, however, a number of opponents, including the host schools of both meets, were Division I and Division II schools, raising the level of competition to a new high this season. But even facing what Izzo called “excellent competition in both places,” the team was very successful.

Unlike the previous meets, where the team usually traveled as a single group, last weekend the team was split up, with seven of the men attending the St. Valentine Invitational hosted by Boston University and the rest going to Cornell University for the Cornell Kane Invitational. Even though the structure of the weekend’s events were different from the other meets, the results were quite similar.

Overall, the weekend was quite successful, and in both locations the team achieved many of its goals. Since both meets did not include team scoring, the primary objective in both locations was to attempt to qualify a number of athletes for ECACs. “We took seven guys, and everyone qualified for ECAC Championships,” Izzo said of the meet at Boston.

“There were some outstanding performances at the Cornell meet as well, including a number of personal bests.”

One performance that stood out in particular came from senior Brian Strandburg. Strandburg set the school record in the 500 meter dash with a time of 1:06.56, breaking the previous record and earning a ninth place finish in the event.

Additionally, the tough competition created an atmosphere similar to what the team will encounter when the Championship Season begins with Conference Championships on Feb. 28 at St. Lawrence University. But before the team can think about Conference Championships and beyond, many members of the team will have their work cut out for them this weekend. Most of the team will head back to Cornell to compete in the Cornell Invitational, once again facing a number of competitors from Division I and II schools. Izzo’s expectations for both his team and the competition is very high. “It is everyone’s last chance to qualify for ECAC’s,” he said. “Obviously this weekend is very important.” In an attempt to get as many people qualified for ECAC Championships, Izzo said that “people will be competing in fewer events, and some will also be resting.” Most importantly, he said, “we’re going to take a run at it this weekend.”

Some members of the team won’t attend Saturday’s meet at Cornell, as they will rest and continue last minute preparations for the Pentathlon Conference Championships here on Sunday. In the days leading up to the Pentathlon meet, Izzo said the athletes have been “doing mostly technical work, working on the fine points, and hopefully getting ready to have big scores.” The Pentathlon Championships promise to be very exciting, as last year’s champion Jacob Budny looks to repeat with another victory. Izzo said of several other competitors, “Jon Kaiser has improved very much since last year’s competition, and sophomore Liam Rafferty will gain some great experience.”

If there was one disappointment from last weekend, it was that the entire team could not all be together to share in everyone’s success. One obstacle of having team members and coaches scattered throughout the East Coast was having to constantly check up on the events of the other meet, as well as the progress of the high school meet that the team was simultaneously hosting back in Rochester. “It was sort of chaotic, but it was fun,” Izzo said. “But then again, it’s always fun when you succeed.”

Swidler can be reached at dswidler@campustimes.org.



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