Facing off against some tough competition this weekend at the St. Valentine’s Relays at Boston University, including multiple Division I schools and some independent competitors, the men’s and women’s track and field teams held their own, producing a multitude of personal bests and additional qualifications for the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships later this season.
The women’s team’s performance was especially notable with the breaking of a 19-year-old school record and the near breaking of another school record. The women not only had top performances at BU over the weekend, but they also had some impressive finishes at the Cornell Invitational at Cornell University.
The standout competitor for the women was freshman Casey Green, who, in the process of qualifying for the ECACs in the 200-meter dash, broke the school record set 19 years ago. Green placed 39th out of 168 runners with a time of 26.22 seconds. The previous record, which was set by Natalie Anderson ’89 in 1989, was 26.0 but was hand-timed. An adjustment is made to convert the hand time into an automatic time by adding .24 seconds to the time, causing Green to break the record by .02 seconds. In addition to her stellar run in the 200-meter dash, Green also had a season-best time in the 55-meter dash with a time of 7.47.
Sophomore Heather Graham was another ECAC qualifier by finishing the 500-meter dash in 1:22.38. Also qualifying for ECACs was sophomore Suzanne Giunta, who ran a time of 3:10.26 in the 1,000-meter run. In addition to the qualifications, the women had a plethora of season-best times. Sophomore Hilary Haefner produced a time of 2:29.66 in the 800-meter dash, and senior Stacie Woods had a best time of 60.90 in the 400-meter dash. In the 3,000-meter run, three women had season bests. Senior Kellie Hasselwander finished in 10:25.59, sophomore Allie McComb in 10:46.14 and sophomore Rachel Given in 11:15.07.
The distance medley relay team of McComb, Woods, sophomore Lisa Cole and Hasselwander had another season-best finish with a time of 12:40.40. Junior Jamie Landry was yet another Yellowjacket with an outstanding finish. She clocked in at 9.26 in the 55-meter high hurdles.
In the field events, senior Anjuli Cherukuri lived up to her previously set dazzling performance of clearing 3.30 meters in the pole vault. She first reached this mark last week at Rochester Institute of Technology, and it was there that she broke the previously set UR record for the event. She was able to repeat the show at BU, proving that the mark was not a fluke.
At Cornell, sophomore Elise Scheid threw the weight 16.04 meters, just one centimeter short of the NCAA provisional qualifying standard, which lets an athlete into the NCAA championship meet on the condition that there are less than the maximum number of participants who qualify with a better performance. If an NCAA automatic qualifying time is reached, the athlete is guaranteed participation in the meet disregarding how many other competitors qualify with a better time. Scheid’s throw put her in second out of 28 athletes in the event.
Sophomore Melissa Skevington also had a great showing at Cornell, hopping, skipping and jumping 10.85 meters in the triple jump, to put her 13 centimeters short of the UR record set in 1990. Her jump placed her ninth of 27 jumpers.
On the men’s side of the competition, it was senior Mike Burgstrom who shined the brightest in the St. Valentine’s meet. He placed fifth in the weight throw out of 65 competitors with a throw of 17.39 meters. Three of the four men who placed above him were unaffiliated with a school. Two participate in a premiere track and field club in Connecticut, and the winner of the event has qualified for the Olympic trials in the hammer throw. The final opponent above him, who placed fourth, was from University of Rhode Island, a Division I school. Burgstrom is currently the weight throw leader in Division III.
Senior Mark Stevens had a particularly great day in the one-mile run. He finished in a time of 4:16 and qualified for ECACs. In addition, his time was just short of an NCAA provisional qualifying time. On top of Stevens’s, UR had two other impressive performances in the mile run. Freshmen Dan Lane and Jake Tutmaher had season bests in the event, crossing the line at 4:35.54 and 4:35.84, respectively.
In the 3,000-meter run, junior Dan Chebot qualified for ECACs with a time of 8:57.50. Junior Travis Buttaccio was another ECAC qualifier, running the 200-meter dash 23.08 seconds.
In the 5,000-meter run, seniors Pat Hughes and Dan Mueller were the final ECAC qualifiers for the day. Hughes completed the race in 15:11.83, and Mueller was not far behind with a time of 15:17.75. All of these men placed near the middle of the pack in their races, a remarkable performance considering the opponents they faced. It also showed the strength of the field, as these runners were achieving top times in their conference in Division III.
Season bests also came from junior Malik Sams and senior Max Ehrmann in the 200-meter dash, who finished in 23.71 and 23.88, respectively.
Freshman Andrew Lee had a season best time in the 800-meter run, crossing the line at 1:59.04. The final season-best time came from the 4×400-meter relay team. The clan of Buttaccio, Ehrmann, Lee and junior Jon Antista finished the race in 3:30.29.
This past week, the women were also ranked sixth in Division III by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. The rankings are based on each team having two participants in each NCAA event. Points are given based on current times and distances of track and field events, and the rankings are chosen by a dual meet scoring set up.
In addition to being ranked sixth in the country, the women are ranked at the top of the Atlantic Region. UR received 175.72 points, just ahead of Roanoke College with 175.08 points and behind Augustana College with 184.32. The top-ranked team is Tufts University, who earned 198.14 points. The rankings continue for five more weeks. At the end of the period, the top team is given a trophy for its accomplishment.
This weekend, both teams will participate in the Kane Invitational, which is also held at Cornell University.
After this, they will participate in one more meet at Cornell University. In two weeks, the teams will start their slew of championship meets with the New York State Collegiate Track Conference Championship meet. Until then, the Yellowjackets will look to improve their performances in hopes of having additional qualifiers for ECACs and the NCAA championship meet.
Philbrick is a member of the class of 2009.