The men’s track and field team hosted the UR Alumni Invitational at Fauver Stadium on Saturday. Although it was cold, at least it was sunny, which is more than can be said for the previous week’s meet. With 163 points, the men finished solidly in second place, 50 points behind SUNY Geneseo but far ahead of Rochester Institute of Technology’s total of 74.50 points. “I was pretty pleased,” Head Coach John Izzo said. “We didn’t set up to score points.” The day started out strong for the men, as graduate student Brian Strandberg posted a victory in the 200-meter dash. His time of 22.83 seconds earned the team their first ten points of the day and earned Strandberg a spot in the State Championships. He would also be an important part of one of the most dominating events of the day for the men, the 400-meter dash. In that event, he finished in second place with a time of 50.88 seconds, once again qualifying for States. Finishing ahead of him with a time of 49.37 seconds was sophomore Matt Tierney, whose time qualified him for Eastern College Athletic Conference Championships. Also in the 400, sophomore Kirk Bristol was fourth with a time of 51.39 seconds, senior Greg Dusek was fifth with a time of 51.78 seconds, and freshman Jacob Pylman was seventh. In the 800-meter run, junior Matt Rodems was second, finishing in 1:59.42, just two-tenths of a second ahead of teammate sophomore Chris Nolan, who was fourth. Nolan posted another fourth-place finish in the 1,500-meter run, as he ran 4:08.43. Finishing third in the event was freshman Andrew Whitbeck. As an aside, Whitbeck qualified for Junior Nationals in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, and will compete in June as he attempts to qualify for the U.S. National team. In the 10,000-meter run, sophomore Andrew Dylag ran 34:22.51 to finish eighth. Freshman Brian MacIlvain placed seventh in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles, finishing in 1:00.66. The 4×400-meter relay team of Tierney, Dusek, Strandberg and sophomore Chris Clark was reunited on Saturday for the first time in several weeks and immediately returned to dominant form. They posted a time of 3:28.14, finishing first by nearly five full seconds. “Our dynamic 400 team is back and firing on all cylinders – things are going well,” Izzo said.Also posting a solid day was the 4×800-meter relay team, which ran 8:18.21 to finish first as well. For the second consecutive week, freshman Tom Felio set a personal record in the high jump. This time, he jumped 1.83 meters, finishing in fifth place. In the pole vault, senior Adam Smith marked 4.11 meters to finish third and meet the State qualifying standard. The throwers continue to be the driving force behind the men’s team, as valuable points were racked up in all four events. And once again, it was senior Andrew Wunder leading the way. In the shot put, Wunder marked 14.62 meters to finish first and meet the ECAC qualifying mark. Finishing fourth was senior Zach Opsitnick, who marked 12.97 meters. Just behind him was senior Jacob Budny, currently the nation’s top ranked decathlete, finishing fifth with a mark of 12.66 meters. Senior Brian Ecker also marked 12.13 meters to finish in seventh place.Wunder followed up his shot put victory with another victory in the discus throw. His mark of 43.00 meters was more than two full meters ahead of the second-place finisher from Geneseo, as he met the ECAC qualifying standard. Also in the discus, Budny and Lange were third and fourth, respectively.There would be no stopping Wunder on this day, as he made it a clean sweep of the events he entered with a victory in the hammer throw. His mark of 47.88 meters met the qualifying standard for ECACs in yet another event. “He had a brilliant day,” Izzo said. Sophomore Chris Skeehan marked 42.30 meters in the event, finishing fourth. The strong day continued right to the end for the men, as they combined for ten points in the javelin throw to close out the meet. Lange marked 46.77 meters to finish third. Behind him, freshman Bryan Huntley marked 45.38 meters and freshman Pete Vern marked 43.99 meters to finish sixth and eighth respectively.”We’re getting healthy. We’re almost back to 100 percent and we’re peaking at the right time,” Izzo said.This weekend the men will split up as they continue to prepare for the postseason, which is now just two weeks away. Some members of the team will travel to Hamilton College, while others will stay close by and attend the meet hosted by Roberts Wesleyan College. In both cases, they will look to continue to qualify as many people in as many postseason events as possible. Swidler can be reached at email@example.com.
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