Six From Outdoor Track In Action
ALBANY, N.Y. – The 2015 collegiate season has ended for the University at Albany track & field program, but the student-athletes who make up the roster are still available to compete in events beyond the season, either competing as junior (U-20) athletes or competing internationally for other countries in which they have citizenship.
This week, six UAlbany student-athletes will compete in three separate locations. Three of the six, Devon Willis, Tyler Ranke, and Kyle Gronostaj, will visit Eugene, Oregon, for the USA Junior National Championships. Willis will compete in the triple jump, Ranke in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, and Gronostaj in the 10,000-meters.
The remaining three will compete internationally. Alex Bowen and Grace Claxton will compete for Panama and Puerto Rico respectively, at the Central American Senior Championships in Managua, Nicaragua. Matthew Campbell will compete in the Jamaican National Championships, known locally as the Jamaica trials.
“It’s exciting to see great things involved in international competition,” said Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Roberto Vives, “especially one year out from the Olympic Games.”
As of May 26, Willis ranked fourth in the country among eligible junior athletes in the triple jump, and 27th in the world. At stake for those at the Junior National Championships is a berth into Junior Pan American Games in Edmonton, Canada. To earn a berth a competitor must place within the top-two in his or her event. At the time of this writing, Willis is seeded fifth in the triple jump field, Ranke is seeded fourth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, and Gronostaj is ranked ninth in the 10,000 based on those who have entered with 10,000 seed times.
“This meet gives the junior-eligible student-athletes experience on a national stage,” Vives said. “It bodes well for future NCAA championships they may qualify for later in their careers.”
The Junior National Championships will run concurrently with the Senior National Championships at the same location, so Willis, Ranke, and Gronostaj will be competing at the same event as professionals like Tyson Gay, Justin Gatlin, LaShawn Merritt, Allyson Felix, and Sanya Richards-Ross.
Bowen will compete in the men’s high jump for the second consecutive season. He most recently placed third at the South American Championships, and before that became the Panamanian national champion in the high jump. Bowen is the defending champion at the Central American Championships from when he competed at last year’s meet in Honduras. He set a championship meet record with his winning height of 7’-1”.
Had Bowen won at the South American Championships, he would have earned an automatic berth into World Championships in Beijing in August. Now, the only way he can qualify is by hitting the qualifying standard, which stands at 2.28m, or 7’-6”. Bowen’s personal best is 7’-3.25”. Event beyond World Championships, however, Bowen still has opportunities for further competition this summers, such as the Pan American Games in Toronto.
Claxton will also compete at the South American Championships as a member of Puerto Rico’s national team. She will be part of a 4x400 relay that will attempt to qualify for World Championships. The team includes Carol Rodriguez, who held the Puerto Rican indoor national record in the 400-meter dash that Claxton surpassed earlier this year, Pariis Garcia, a junior from St. John’s who placed second behind Claxton at ECAC Outdoor Championships in May, and Indiana State sophomore Alethia Marrero, who placed fifth in the 800 at NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Campbell will compete in the high jump at Jamaica trials, where he will be eligible to qualify for the World University Games, the Pan American Games, and the North American, Central American, and Caribbean Games. He needs to be one of the top finishers, and satisfy a qualifying standard.
“The extended seasons are super-positive to the team,” Vives said. “It is motivating to see activity internationally. It brings excitement to the program, and helps us build to the next level.”
Bowen competes Saturday, June 27 at 10:30 a.m. Campbell competes Saturday at 5:15 p.m. Willis competes on Saturday 6:50 p.m. Ranke competes on Saturday at 8:17 p.m. Gronostaj competes on Saturday at 9:01 p.m. Claxton competes Sunday, June 28 at 12:15 p.m.