At 2:20 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 11, 16 women stood in line, nerves flaring, anticipating the three-and-a-half minute chaos that was about to ensue. The words on the singlets of the lead-off legs read “Fordham,” “Central Connecticut,” and “Colgate,” all Division I institutions. Among them, wearing number five on their hips, the royal yellow words in a sea of navy blue uttered “Rochester.” 

The Yellowjackets were making their first visit in years to the historic Armory Track, placed just a few blocks from the Hudson River in Washington Heights. The quartet of Megan Bell, Kate Isaac, Susan Bansbach, and Kristin Hardy went on to win the College Women’s 4×400 with a commanding 3:51.57, beating out their Division I competition and running the ninth fastest time in the NCAA, putting them in a position to race for a national title in March. 

Two hours later, seven contracted professionals toed the line in the George Hirsch Mile, the respected undercard to the Wanamaker Mile and most prestigious indoor Track and Field race on the planet. They were joined by two high school prodigies and three of the NCAA’s best, one of which was Rochester’s very own Scott Sikorski. The All-American stood with poise as the television broadcast listed the accolades and accomplishments of his opponents: US Champion Robby Andrews of Adidas and NCAA Division I National Champion Reed Brown of Oregon to name a few. Out of the 12 men who raced that day, Sikorski finished No. 6 in a time of 4:04.72, an improvement of his previous school record. 

The plethora of Rochester program records and blazing times did not only happen in Manhattan. The day before, in another Borough of New York City, Mitchell Leinert broke the school record for the fifth time. He ran a time of 22.00 in the 200 meters at the Ocean Breeze Fastrack National Invite, placing No. 6 out of the 99 collegiate competitors. One week before, Cole Goodman improved on his Long Jump school record with a leap of 7.21 meters and Scott Sikorski broke a 40-year old 3000m record in 8:22.13. Madeleine O’Connell pole vaulted 3.65 meters to open the season, and Kate Isaac was just named the Liberty League Athlete of the Week after winning the Brockport Invite in 58.80 seconds.

I asked team Captain and All-American Gabe Lundy, class of 2023, why he thinks the records are falling like dominoes in Rochester. “I think so many school records are falling because of the culture the team has developed,” he said. We have a lot of goal-oriented people on this team who are willing to put in the necessary work to surpass their goals. When teammates start doing well, that motivates everyone else and lights a fire inside. Their success makes you want to rise to their level.”

He’s not wrong. The ball started rolling last February and has not stopped. The Men won the Liberty League Indoor Track & Field Championships by 9.5 points, edging out Ithaca College with a score of 174.5, while the Women finished second. The Women’s squad followed up in the Spring and won the Outdoor Championship while the Men fell short to Ithaca. These successes and failures have given the Yellowjackets a taste of what awaits them as they prepare for the Championships on Feb. 24. The team culture is about winning championships and doing everything you can to get points on the board for your teammates. 

You can watch the Yellowjacket Men and Women fight for a conference title from Feb. 24 to Feb. 25 at RIT. You will be in for a treat.

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