By Catey McCann, Staff Writer
They have trained for it all season and it’s finally here. The men’s and women’s track and field team will be traveling to the New Balance Track and Field Center at the Armory in New York for the America East Championships this Friday and Saturday.
The Wildcats have had a strong season so far with a lot of top performances by both new and veteran talent. Both teams are shooting to finish in the top-five, with the women’s team even aiming for a possible second place.
“The competition does look pretty stiff,” said men’s head coach Jim Boulanger. “And we’re a young team. We want to try to get everyone to score as much as they can and feel like they had a good meet.”
On the men’s side, many of the athletes will be doubling and tripling in events in hopes to get as many top finishes as possible.
“The key to the conference is going there and hitting your seed time or running faster or throwing farther,” he said. “And then you’re guaranteed to score.”
Boulanger will be looking to several key athletes for that scoring. Senior John Prizzi will be doubling in the 5k and 3k. He took first place in the 3k last year with a time of 8:20.43. Senior Kevin Greene will be doubling in the mile and 1000-meter. Last time he competed at the championship in those events he took first and third place. After breaking the school record this season in the 800-meter, Boulanger will be looking for a good performance from sophomore Drew Piazza in the 800 and 4 by 800-meter relay race.
D’mahl McFadden will also be tripling in events at the meet. He is expected to get top finishes in the hurdles, 50-meter dash and 200-meter. Sophomore Mike Shanahan, who is currently centimeters away from the school record in the weight throw, will be throwing both the weight and the shot put for the team. Standout freshman Alex Tamulonis is expected to do well in the pole vault. Boulanger will also be looking to senior captains Dan Johnson and Jake Renaud to score points for the team.
On the women’s side, distance head coach Robert Hoppler is very excited to head into another championship after a very successful cross country season this fall — when the team took first place at America East.
“We’re asking these distance runners to rise to the occasion of the America East meet,” he said. “We’re asking a lot of them to run two events and try to score in both events.”
Senior Anne Twombly will be competing in the mile and the 800-meter. She already has five first place finishes this season. Senior Chelsey Serrano will be doubling in the 5k and 3k. She set a personal record in the 3k this season with a time of 9:48.54. Samantha Blaise will also be doubling in the 5k and 3k. She has already set personal records in both of those events this season. Laura Rose Donegan, who has earned multiple top finishes this season, will be doubling in the mile and the 3k. Hoppler will also be looking to junior Cassie Kruse to score points in the 1000-meter and 4 by 800-meter relay.
“They will be running against the same kids they ran against this fall,” he said. “So they know if things go well that we can score some points.”
Head coach Casey Carroll will be looking for a top-place finish from both the team and many of his athletes. A top-three finish in the 60-meter dash is expected from standout sprinter Lauren Perrodin. She is also likely to take a top eight finish in the 200-meter dash. In the long sprints it’s freshman Danielle Gajewski leading the pack. She is seeded at 1:16 in the 500-meter, which could earn her a top five finish. Senior Virginia Lavallee is expected to take top finishes in both the hurdles and the pentathlon.
Freshman Kari Murnane is seeded eighth in the pole vault. Carroll will be looking for a top-six finish from her. Junior Abigail Kaplan is expected to have good performances in the throws. She is currently the top weight thrower on the team and will be looking for a finish in the top eight. It’s also expected to be a big day for the athletes competing in the high jump. Led by senior captain Jessica Salley, freshmen Rachel Morrison, Tessa Artuc and Jeannette Mara could all score in the top eight. Salley is the favorite to win.
According to Carroll, the teams will be in meet-simulation mode in the days leading up to the championship. This week will be all about putting in the hard work and mentally preparing to compete this weekend.