Track Slated For Two Meets In Texas
ALBANY, N.Y. – Less than one week after opening competition for the 2014 outdoor track season, the University at Albany will travel to Texas to participate in two meets late this week. The big meet on the schedule is the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays, hosted by the University of Texas at Austin. The other meet, the Bobcat Invitational, is hosted by Texas State University in San Marcos, about 40 minutes away from Austin by car. The Bobcat Invitational runs at the same time as the Texas Relays.
Indicative of its name, UAlbany will focus primarily on its relay events at the Texas Relays. The men and women will each run a stacked 4x100 and distance medley relay, and the men will run a stacked 4x800. The men’s 4x800 indoors ran the fourth fastest time in the country at IC4A Championships, when they placed third with a 7:26.02.
“The 4x800 will run Thursday night,” said Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Roberto Vives. “We think a school record is possible with this group. Friday, most of the men’s 4x800 will return to run the DMR, which, along with the women’s DMR, we hope can be competitive. The women may have a shot at that school record as well.”
“As for the 4x100,” Vives continued, “we like to work a pool of six athletes, so we have flexibility if we need it. That’s why you’ll see slightly different squads from our first meet. The women, in particular, need to work on stick passes, but we’re hoping both teams can take advantage of the warmer weather, which is needed for this event.”
But it’s not just the relays that will get work in at the meet. Many athletes entered in the meet will run an open event in addition to their relay, but a few will only do open events. Silvia Del Fava and Valentina Talevi will each run the 5,000, and Alexander Bowen and Alfonso Scannapieco will compete in the high jump and pole vault respectively.
For Bowen, he will once again face a field comprised of a number of the competitors he faced at indoor nationals, marking the third time in his last four meets he has jumped against the country’s best competition.
The Bobcat Invitational, running concurrently with the Texas Relays, provides an opportunity for other athletes to see live competition in warm weather early in the season. The multis athletes, Paige Vadnais and Matthew Catera, will use the meet to compete in the first heptathlon and decathlon respectively, in an effort to hit the necessary qualifying marks for championships season, so they don’t have to continue competing in the grueling event chasing the standard. A similar sentiment exists for the 400m hurdlers, who are looking for a qualifying mark for the postseason to eliminate the need to run the grueling event more than they have to.
“IC4As and ECACs only take the top 16 athletes, so it’s important to get a good mark down when you have the opportunity,” said assistant coach Todd Wolin. Assuming he qualifies, Matt likely won’t do the full decathlon again until IC4A’s, while Nick Mattera will be our guy at conferences. But all that could change, of course.
Both meets will be used to sharpen the hurdle pool for a potential shuttle hurdle relay at the Penn Relays in late April.
“With Tynelle, Michelle, CiCi Simon, and ToniAnn Werner, we want to have a solid women’s shuttle hurdle relay for Penn,” said Wolin. “The men could put one together too, with Matt and Alfonso, and with Jose Farley and Rudje Beckford getting healthy.”
Bobcat also allows an opportunity for the 4x100 relay teams to run a second time over the weekend, in the event they do not qualify for finals at the Texas Relays. Similarly, assistant coach Matt Jones will use the Bobcat Invitational to get more work in for the middle distance athletes.
“We’ve entered athletes in both meets,” said Jones, “just so that if we need to, we can get them another race in, so they get the work they need.”
Only a small contingent of athletes is making the trip to Texas. Those left behind were scheduled to run at a dual meet at Dartmouth College, but the meet was cancelled due to poor conditions on the track. These athletes will have the weekend off, in preparation for the first UAlbany home meet since 2011, when the men will compete against UConn in the Dogfight, and the women host the Quad Meet, on April 5.