Facing their toughest competition of the season so far, the UR men’s track and field team stepped up to the challenge and put together yet another outstanding performance.

The Syracuse University Invitational pitted the team against some top-tier Division III competition, as well as a number of teams from Divisions I and II.

“It was awesome. We had some exceptional performances, and no one had a bad performance,” Head Coach John Izzo said.

Junior Matt Tierney led the way again, winning the 400-meter dash. His time of 48.72 seconds was nearly a full second ahead of the school record he set last year at 49.70 seconds. Additionally, he automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships and is currently ranked third nationally.

“Tierney had a brilliant performance,” Izzo said.

In the 800-meter run, junior Chris Clark ran 1:55.29 to finish in second place. “He ran a great race. I think he has a real good chance to qualify for Nationals,” Izzo said. With a time of 2:36.30, senior Matt Rodems earned fourth place in the 1,000-meter run. Senior Dan Duett finished the 3,000-meter run in 8:58.96 to finish seventh.

The 5,000-meter run might have been the best event of the day for the team overall, as two men finished in the top 10. Freshman Mark Stevens took first with a time of 15:15.31. Finishing in seventh place was freshman Dan Mueller. His time was 16:12.27.

The 1,600-meter relay team dominated the competition, running 3:22.03 to win the event by more than four seconds. The distance medley relay ran 11:01.50 to finish in sixth place.

Freshman Eric Scheele had the top mark on the team among the shot put throwers,with a 14.19 meter throw to finish eighth. Graduate student Andrew Wunder marked 14.10 meters to finish ninth. Senior Zach Opsitnick was 10th with a mark of 13.59 meters. In the weight throw, Wunder improved his mark to 17.63 meters with a second place finish.

He currently ranks seventh in the nation in his quest to qualify for the Nationals.With Tierney automatically qualified and Wunder provisionally qualified, for the first time in Izzo’s five years here, the team expects to have multiple athletes going to Nationals.

With several weeks remaining in the season, expectations are high that there will be even more qualifiers.

“Across the board, we have good young talent and good veteran talent. We’re a much deeper team than in the past,” Izzo said.

This weekend, the team will split up, as some of the athletes travel to Boston University while others head to Cornell University.

BU is known for having one of the fastest banked tracks in the country, which should be a welcome sight for the team.

“We’re hoping to qualify a distance medley and a 4 x 400 meter relay for Nationals in Boston this weekend,” Izzo said. “Our intention is to put more people in Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships and more people in the State meet.”

Swidler can be reached at dswidler@campustimes.org.

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