Track Returns To Ocean Breeze For Villanova Open
ALBANY, N.Y. – Last weekend, the University at Albany track & field program attended two meets. The multis athletes competed at Cornell’s Upstate Challenge for a first full run-through of the women’s pentathlon and the men’s heptathlon. The remainder of the team competed at Middlebury’s Winterfell Meet for the first time in program history, and for the first time at Middlebury’s new indoor track facility.
“I think we’re continuing to move forward and develop,” said Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Roberto Vives. “This weekend is our third meet, so I think we’ll start to see some people pull ahead.”
Last week saw senior thrower Eric DelVescovo break his own school record in the shot put with a mark of 53-11.75. He is leading the America East by nearly two feet in the event, and has now broken the school record two times in three meets.
“They loved Middlebury’s facility,” said Vives. “It features the indoor track, but also the hall of fame area, Olympic swimming pool, turf field. I thought the kids were impressed. It was good to go to a different meet. They treated us well. They really laid out the red carpet. They were happy that we were there. It was a change from what we usually do, and I think the kids came out of it well.”
Only four teams, including UAlbany, competed at Middlebury. One of the opponents was conference rival Vermont.
“It was good that Vermont was there,” said Vives. “They are always in the mix at conference. You can never count them out. They have good kids in certain areas, so it was good to see them early. For our athletes, getting beaten early by someone in conference shows them that there is a legitimate competitor out there and they can’t just show up at championships and expect to win.”
Senior Mary Adeyeye won the pentathlon at Upstate, and ranks second in the event in the America East.
“The women did very well at Upstate,” said Vives. “Some of the guys were banged up, but still performed well. I thought it was good for an opener.”
Friday, the team will reunite for a return to Ocean Breeze following the season opening Great Dane Classic two weeks ago. This weekend’s Villanova Open features three entries per event per team in an effort to keep the quality of the races high.
“We’re going to see some good teams this weekend,” said Vives. “We’ll see competitors from schools like Syracuse, Rutgers, and host Villanova. It’s a good opportunity for our kids to perform and continue to improve on their performances. Right now we don’t worry a lot about the team scoring, it’s more about progressing. Everything leading up to the conference championship is preparation for conference and beyond.
“The hurdlers, for example, have to continue to improve to get their rhythm,” Vives continued. “It’s like a pitcher, it takes a while to get into that groove. So our hurdlers were real sharp before they went home for intersession. Now, we’re starting to get that rhythm back.”
The weekend marks the first of two consecutive where the Great Danes will compete at Ocean Breeze. Additionally, this weekend and next will see UAlbany compete in meets hosted by Villanova.
One of the events to watch at the meet will be the men’s 400m, where UAlbany holds three of the top four seeds. The top overall seed is Rutgers sophomore and local product Izaiah Brown, who is the reigning indoor and outdoor Big 10 champion in the 400m, with an indoor best time in the event of 45.62 indoors and 45.27 outdoors. Brown currently ranks third in the country in the 300m with a time of 33.12, and is entered in both the 200m and 400m on Friday.
“I’m trying to prep my guys, regardless of who’s there, to compete, and compete at a high level,” said Vives.
Currently, UAlbany has three student-athletes ranked in the top 25 in the country. Ryan Udvadia and Kyle Gronostaj rank 20th and 21st respectively in the 5,000m, and Kingsley Ogbonna ranks 22nd in the high jump. The top 16 in each event qualify for NCAA Indoor Championships. The Great Danes have also earned 28 IC4A and ECAC qualifying performances between the men’s and women’s team through three meets this season, dating back to the Boston University Season Opener in December.
The Villanova Open is scheduled to begin Friday, January 27 at 12:00 p.m. with the men’s 5,000m on the track, and the men’s and women’s weight throw, women’s pole vault, and men’s and women’s long jump.