Participating in their third invitational in a row hosted by a Division I school, the men’s and women’s track and field teams produced some strong finishes over ethe weekend. In addition to a large field of Division I runners, the Valentine Invitational at Boston University attracted Division II and III schools, as well as unattached runners and runners from elite athletic clubs.
‘The top level competition makes us push harder and achieve at a higher level than we might against easier competition,” women’s head coach Barbara Hartwig said. ‘It also makes us mentally tougher. When you step on the track [or field] against great people, you learn to focus, control your emotions and rise to the level of competition. Then, when we go back and compete against our conference foes, who are no slouches, we have a greater sense of confidence.”
In addition to the strong competition, the tracks at BU and Syracuse University, where the teams ran two weekends ago, provided opportunities for UR to run fast.
‘The BU track is banked, so it is extremely fast for sprints like the 200 and 400/500,” Hartwig said. ‘The SU track is almost a circle, and it’s also extremely fast regardless of the event.”
The invitational was a nonscoring meet, but the ‘Jackets’ talent with two runners finishing in the top 16 of their events. Sophomore Jacqueline Cinella placed 14th out of 60 runners in the 500 with a time of 1:18.15. Junior Shanthi Chodagiri finished 16th in a field of 122 in the 400, crossing the finish line with a time of 58.62.
Freshman Lauren Norton finished the 5000-meter run in 18:34.07 to place 41st out of 66 runners, and junior Heather Graham finished 82nd out of 120 runners in the 3000 with a time of 10:56.37.
Hartwig was pleased with the results. ‘I think the team more than proved itself these last three weekends,” she said.
The men’s team had athletes qualify for the Eastern College Athletic Conference championship meet in four events. Senior Dan Chebot ran the 5000 in 15:03.22 to qualify for ECACs and placed 26th out of 90 runners. Freshman Jamie Vavra placed 49th in the same event, crossing the finish line in 15:24.45. In the 3000, both freshman Jason Zayac and sophomore Dan Lane qualified with times of 8:51.26 and 8:52.88, respectively. They placed 79th and 87th in a field of 164.
‘I think going to Boston was great because with the large number of athletes and competition that was there,” Zayac said. ‘It was a good tune up for what States and ECACs will be like.”
Two relay teams also qualified for the upcoming ECAC meet. The 4-by-400 team finished in 3:21.77 to place 20th of 47, and the distance medley relay team finished in a time of 10:29.72.
The Yellowjackets have only one more invitational before their sequence of championship meets. This weekend, they will travel to Cornell University for the Denault Invitational.
‘Leading up to States and ECACs, I’m just going to listen to [head] Coach [John] Izzo, because he has our workouts mapped out in a way that is going to make us as well prepared as we can be for those meets,” Zayac said. ‘When championships roll around, I trust that we will all be ready to run fast and perform well.”
Philbrick is a member of the class of 2009.