Outdoor Track Heads To Penn Relays
ALBANY, N.Y. – The calendar reads late April, and in the world of track and field that means the Penn Relays are about to commence. One of the biggest events on the track schedule across all levels, the University at Albany will send a contingent of athletes to compete over the Relays’ three days of collegiate races.
Although the focus is on relay events, given the name of the meet, the Penn Relays also feature a number of individual events, some of which will field UAlbany athletes. Silvia Del Fava will compete in the 10,000, in an effort to break into the regional qualifying list. UAlbany will be well represented in the 400 hurdles as well, with Tynelle-Taylor Chase and Aderinsola Ajala competing for the women and Larry Ramirez and Jeremiah Obeng-Agyapong competing for the men.
“We’re hoping our hurdlers can make it on the regional list,” said Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Roberto Vives. “We’d like to see both women run times under one minute, and I think the men can both go under 53 seconds.”
A number of field event athletes are competing as well. Alexander Bowen and Alfonso Scannapieco lead the way in the championship sections of the high jump and pole vault respectively. Ashley Grant, Min Pacella, and Nailah Braxton are competing in the Eastern division of the women’s high jump, as are Matthew Campbell and Kingsley Ogbonna on the men’s side.
“Alex is a little rusty,” said assistant coach Todd Wolin. “It’s his big meet since nationals, and we’re working on some timing issues. But he’s ready to go. I think he’s beaten everyone in the field at least once.”
“Matthew’s been hurt,” Wolin continued, “so this is his first time competing since Puerto Rico. Kingsley is working on being more consistent on his approach, which is made slightly more difficult at Penn because you start on turf before you actually get to the apron. Alfonso is only pole vaulting this weekend. But I think all of the athletes in my group are ready to do well, if not set personal bests.”
Coach Wolin will also have the women’s high hurdlers compete in the shuttle hurdle relay, which has its sights set on setting a new school record in the event.
The Danes will run a multitude of other relays. The men are running all three sprint relays, including the 4x200 relay, which is rarely contested. The 4x200 sits in between the 4x100 and 4x400 in the schedule, and there is some overlap with the athletes on each relay squad.
“We’re looking for both 4x400 relays to run seasonal bests,” said Vives. “For the men that means 3:10 or so, and for the women, around 3:42 or 3:43. We’d like them to make finals in the event, especially considering there is an IC4A and ECAC finals section, where we’d like to represent ourselves well.”
“We’re running the 4x100 that we’ll run at IC4A’s,” Vives continued, “which means our best 100 runner, Kareem Morris, is an alternate this week, because he’ll be at graduation, which is the same weekend as IC4A’s. But we have five athletes in each relay pool, in case we need to switch people out as the week progresses.”
The distance runners will also get in on the action, with both the men and women running a 4x800 and the men running a distance medley relay.
“We have a solid team,” said assistant coach Matt Jones, “but we’ve had to make some adjustments with injuries. So John DeLallo will lead off the DMR, and Dylan Lowry will end up doubling in the 4x800 relay and the 800 leg of the DMR. We’re giving Chris Buchanan a bit of a break with the longer distances, so he’s anchoring the DMR this week.”
“Originally I had them in single events,” Jones continued, “but injuries changed that. I can’t really say how they’ll do. It’s their first 4x800 of the spring, after they ran 7:26 indoors. But all of this is really prep work for conferences next week. It’s good for the kids to run at a meet like this, because they can run fast without it being too draining.”
“The women’s 4x800 will be running fresh on all four legs,” Jones concluded. “For them we’ll start at 9:00, and from there we’ll see how far under they can go. This group maybe isn’t quite as competitive as the team we ran last year, but they could be.”
One concern this week is the fact that conference championships are a week away, and with that comes a balancing act when a prestigious meet like Penn Relays lies so close in the schedule.
“We had a light week of training,” said Vives, “and the meet runs Thursday through Saturday. So they can use the races almost like workouts, and they’ll get an extra day of rest on the back end before conferences come up. A meet like Penn can help get the athletes in the right frame of mind to be ready to compete at conference championships when we need them to.”
The UAlbany athletes who are not competing at Penn this weekend will instead return to RPI to compete in the Capital District Classic on Saturday, April 26. Conference championships kick off at Vermont on Saturday, May 3.