While last weekend was the pinnacle of the indoor season for many men and women on the track team, this weekend marks one last opportunity for others to better their season’s marks at the IC4A/ECAC championships with hopes of qualifying for nationals next weekend.
Both the men’s and women’s squads are sending 21 athletes to Boston for the two-day competition, which begins tomorrow morning. About one third of the country’s Division I track programs will be represented at the event, making for large fields and strong competition in many of the events. Due to injury and other reasons, not all of the athletes who qualified for the event will be attending.
“We would like to do well as a team,” said men’s head coach Nathan Taylor. “Our biggest focus will be on the competition. Hopefully we can finish in the top seven or eight.”
The Red brings many accomplished athletes to the meet, including defending outdoor pole vault champion junior Evan Whitehall, sophomore Jordan Lester, who was runner-up in the 55-meter dash last year, and junior David Pell who was third outdoors in the high jump. The triple jump tandem of junior Rayon Taylor and sophomore Muhammad Halim, who were first and third, respectively, at Heps last weekend, will look to better their marks. Taylor surpassed the NCAA provisional standard in the event last weekend with his leap of 15.60 meters.
“I think that he has a good shot of improving his performance,” Taylor said. “He is just outside of being able to go [to nationals]. He needs about 15 centimeters more, which is a definite possibility.”
Also looking toward nationals is sophomore Jimmy Wyner. Last weekend he ran 4:05.93 for second place in the mile, just slightly slower than the NCAA provisional standard.
“I think Jimmy is in shape to run close to four flat,” Taylor said.
Taylor also noted the strength of the 4×800 team, who last year at the IC4As ran the fastest indoor time in the country. With a group of eight men, the Red will run one team of four in the trial with hopes of qualifying for the final and another, even stronger, four men in the final relay.
“It is a calculated risk – there is always the chance that they won’t make the final,” Taylor said.
The women will look to perform well again this weekend, despite the difficulties of having two very demanding meets one week after another.
“It is hard physically and emotionally to put yourself through [two consecutive weekends] like that,” said women’s head coach Lou Duesing.
Most of the teams at the ECACs will be facing the same difficulties as the Red, as they are coming off of their conference championships as well. Teams from the Big East, however, had their championship meet two weeks ago, giving them a slight cushion going into the weekend.
The women’s team already has five women who have met NCAA provisional standards and will try to better their positions on the descending order lists this weekend. Junior Sarah Wilfred, who has consistently cleared the provisional height of 1.78 meters the past few weekends, will look to up the bar to clinch a spot to nationals.
“She is really just one bar raise away,” Duesing said. “She has a very good chance. She has had some excellent attempts at the next height already.”
Junior Morgan Uceny, who is the defending champion in the 800 and senior co-captain Sheeba Ibidunni have both had solid performances throughout the season and hope to continue their success through the weekend.
“[The girls] have had a very good stretch of people performing well,” Duesing said. “I just want them to go out and do the best they can.”