After an intensive week and a half of training during winter break, the women’s track and field team competed at last weekend’s invitational at Rochester Institute of Technology. Though it was a non-scoring meet, the women came away with Eastern College Athletic Conference qualifications in six events, bringing the total number of qualifications to nine.

“This was a good opportunity for us to train, but we went into the meet pretty tired and sore and somewhat rusty since we hadn’t competed for over a month,” head coach Barbara Hartwig said. “So, needless to say, I think we handled that really well.”

The ‘Jackets’ youth and depth promise to provide an advantage throughout the season, as three freshmen qualified for ECACs in four events and four other freshmen placed in their events. As for the depth, the team is the largest in the school’s history.

“We now have the luxury of entering each individual in only one or two events and letting them really specialize,” Hartwig said.

Freshman Prashanthi Chodagiri qualified for ECACs in the 500-meter dash, placing fourth with a time of 1:22.53. In the 1000-meter run, three of her classmates placed, as Hilary Haefner came in fourth with a time of 3:13.88, followed by Allison McComb in sixth and Rachel Given in seventh with times of 3:17.70 and 3:18.99, respectively.

Junior Kellie Hasselwander was a dual qualifier at the invitational. She made the ECAC cut by placing third in the 3000-meter run with a time of 10:46.37. She then ran a leg of the qualifying distance medley, along with sophomore Alexis Kirk, senior Whitney Silkworth and freshman Lisa Cole. The fab four won their event with a time of 13:01.96.

“It’s good to have [qualifying] out of the way and be able to compete in the upcoming meets knowing we’re already headed to ECACs,” Hasselwander said. “It also gives us the confidence that we can qualify in other events.”

The 4×400-meter relay also made an impressive showing, placing third in the event.

On the field, junior Anjuli Cherukuri tied for second in the pole vault, clearing a height of 2.90 meters. The long jump had two ECAC qualifiers. Sophomore Jamie Landry lunged 5.23 meters for a third place finish, and freshman Melissa Skevington 5.15 for fourth. Skevington was another dual qualifier, as she hopped, stepped and jumped an ECAC-qualifying 10.59 meters for seventh place.

In the weight throw, sophomore Jonelle Redhead qualified with a 13.74-meter throw, a fourth place finish. Senior Kathryn Odian placed sixth with 12.92 meters.

The competition at the meet was tough.

“Many of the top eight finishers posted times and marks that were ECAC qualifiers,” Landry said. “The girls’ team definitely has their work cut out for them this indoor season. I’m looking forward to seeing all of us rise to the challenge.”

The men’s team also faced some tough competition at RIT. They managed to qualify two for ECACs, but the intensity of the previous weeks’ practices caused fatigue.

“The effort was there on Saturday but we were not sharp,” head coach John Izzo said. “The winter break put us a bit behind in our training but I am sure that we will bounce back with a few weeks of hard work.”

The first ECAC qualification came from freshman Sean Adams in the 55-meter hurdles. His finish of 8.06 seconds not only qualified him, but also won him the event.

“It just means that we’ve got a lot of training and preparation to do so that we can perform at our absolute best later on in the season,” Adams said when asked about his team’s four ECAC qualifications.

Junior Max Ehrmann represented the sprinters well with a second place finish in the 55-meter dash, crossing the line at 6.77 seconds. Senior Jake Pylman placed in the 500-meter dash, finishing sixth with a time of 69.52.

Senior Brian MacIlvain was UR’s lone placer in the distance events, coming in sixth in the 1000-meter run with a time of 2:38.15.

The 4×200-meter relay team also gave UR a sound representation, finishing in 1:38.09 for third.

In the field events, the ‘Jackets had a better showing, with six placers, one was the other qualifier.

The qualification came from junior Mike Burgstrom, who threw the weight 16.45 meters, good for a second place finish, as well. Junior Eric Scheele also placed in the throwing events, placing fifth in the weight throw with a throw of 14.61 meters and a 13.14 meter shot put good for seventh.

In the high jump, sophomore Kevin Easton cleared 1.83 meters for fourth place, and in the pole vault, junior Dan Gloekler passed the bar at 3.70 meters for another finish in fourth. In the long jump, sophomore Travis Buttaccio launched himself 6.32 meters for a sixth place finish.

The team isn’t letting last week’s performance get them down. Instead, they are looking forward to the more important meets coming up in the future.

“For the upcoming meets, I only foresee that the competition will be even fiercer,” Adams said, “but that shouldn’t be a problem because our whole team seems dedicated and I know that we are capable of meeting, if not exceeding, the level of competition presented.”

Both the men’s and women’s teams head to Saint Lawrence University this weekend for their first scoring meet of the season.

“I expect this week’s meet to be a step in the right direction for us,” Izzo said.

Philbrick is a member of the class of 2009.

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