Outdoor Track Hosts Last Chance Meet
ALBANY, N.Y. – Fresh off winning America East Outdoor Championships, the University at Albany’s men’s and women’s track teams return home for one final meet of the 2014 season, the Purple & Gold Last Chance meet. With IC4A and ECAC Championships a week away, and NCAA East Regionals a week after that, the meet this weekend is, as the name suggests, is the last chance for athletes to hit necessary qualifying times in their events to keep their seasons going.
“This weekend is the last chance people have to hit qualifying standards,” said Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Roberto Vives. “Most of our athletes will be competing in only their best event, though some, like Kathryn Fanning, will be competing in a secondary event. For Kathryn, as an example, she’s running the 800 instead of the 1,500, because she has a shot to qualify in that event as well, allowing some flexibility later on.”
The Last Chance Meet is the third and final home meet on the Danes’ schedule this season, the first with the brand new track. It will also mark the first time since 1999 that UAlbany will host the last meet of the year and be able to include Senior Day celebrations.
“It feels good to compete at home for the last time, in front of the home crowd, family, and friends,” said Vives.
“Our athletes tend to do well at home,” Vives continued. “Some have asked me who is coming this weekend, but if you look at the results from the RACC Classic back in December, you’ll see some good performances, and that was just our athletes competing against each other.”
Since everyone competing has the same goals in mind at a last chance meet, the atmosphere is decidedly different than other meets throughout the season. While the athletes certainly remain competitive with one another, there is more of a sense of cooperation and encouragement, because the ultimate goal is a time, rather than a place.
“We want to keep this meet friendly,” said Vives, “and keep it fun. The Dogfight against UConn was highly competitive, facing one team head-to-head. The Spring Classic was more of a workman’s mentality. It was our big invitational and we were also doing work to prepare for later in the season. This time, we want it to be looser, and more relaxed, and encourage good performances for everyone, not just our own athletes.”
IC4A and ECAC Championships loom a week from Saturday at Princeton, New Jersey, and that’s when UAlbany will return to real competition. For this weekend, the meet is about performance for some athletes, and development for others. UAlbany will not field any relays, so the athletes can focus exclusively on their individual events.
“Some of our athletes will run their last races of the season this weekend, so we’re looking for them to end on a positive note, take the rest they need, and then start preparing for next year.”
Further, Coach Vives has heard some buzz around campus about the track meets the team has already hosted.
“The meets are becoming something of a happening on campus, which is what we’re looking for,” Vives said. “People have told me that they heard the meet was going on and they stopped by to see what it was all about and they really enjoyed the event. It’s something the whole university community can hopefully share in.”
The Purple & Gold Last Chance Meet will feature competitors from Division I and Division III schools, as well as a handful of club teams and unattached athletes. At stake are qualifying times for Division III nationals, IC4A and ECAC Championships, and NCAA Regional Championships. Field events begin Saturday, May 10 at 2:00 p.m. Track events will follow at 4:15 p.m., following the Senior Day ceremony at 3:45 p.m.