Bill Ziskin

Track & Field Competes At Ocean Breeze And Boston University

UAlbany Sports Information   02-02-2017

ALBANY, N.Y. – For the second consecutive week, the University at Albany track & field program will compete at the Ocean Breeze facility on Staten Island in a meet hosted by Villanova.  Last week was the Villanova Open, and this week is the Villanova Invitational.

“A lot of the same teams that were at the Villanova Open last week will also be at the Villanova Invitational this weekend, with maybe one or two exceptions,” said Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Roberto Vives.  “And teams like LIU Brooklyn and Villanova may have better showings this week because their teams split up last weekend to compete elsewhere.”

In the Open, both the men and the women pulled off surprise first-place finishes in the team competition that featured 22 teams each for the men and the women.  The men scored 140 points to take first place over host Villanova, who scored 80, and Bloomfield, who scored 58.  The women scored 96 points in victory, over Monmouth’s 62 points and Delaware’s 56.

“I thought it was a good meet for us,” said Vives.  “Normally we’re at Penn State so this time we didn’t have to go through a whole two days and get back late Saturday night.  The kids had a rare weekend off which is something that is always good this time of year, because they’ve just gone three hard weekends in a row.

“I thought the teams progressed, and winning both the men and women’s team competition was a bonus, something I wasn’t expecting,” said Vives.  “It just shows the quality we have up front.  We scored in just about every event.  We thought we would start making progress forward, and there were a lot of breakthroughs, a lot of good performances.  Four guys went 48 in the 400m, and their 4x400m relay made progress down to 3:13.  Hannah Reinhardt ran 17:34 as a walk-on freshman. Eric DelVescovo once again set the indoor school record in the shot put.  Chinwe Igwe threw 19 meters in the weight throw, a mark she hadn’t reached until conference championships last year.  Jonathan Eustache is working his way up.  Omahri Sturdivant triple jumped 47 feet, qualified for IC4As, and is still using a short approach.  He’s still working the jump part of the event, the longer step phase, before bumping up to the long approach.  Robert Harris III ran a personal best in the 60m, breaking his best mark from his freshman year.  He’s tied it a few times but he finally broke through.  The men in the 5,000m went 1-2, and the 5,000m women went 1-3.  Stefan Buechele cleared 15-9 in the pole vault.  That’s an event where Binghamton is very strong, so it’ll be nice to have someone who can potentially break that up, instead of having Binghamton go 1-5 at championships.”

As was the case last week, this week’s meet has more stringent entry standards, where teams are only allowed three entries per event.

“This format is similar as last week, but this week they accept fewer people,” said Vives.  “The meet last week lasted about five and a half hours, and we expect this one to run about four hours.  They want a smaller, higher quality meet for the top kids.”

The Villanova Invitational was originally the only meet on the schedule for UAlbany this weekend, with the exception of the Scarlet & White Invitational at Boston University, in which senior sprinter Grace Claxton was scheduled to compete due to a speaking commitment for the USATF in Boston the same day that would have prevented her from competed at Ocean Breeze.  However, due to the way the season has unfolded, the team’s plans for this weekend have required some adjustment.

“There is no 500m on the schedule for any of our next three meets,” said Vives.  “And right now, we don’t have anyone qualified in the 500m for conference or IC4A/ECAC championships.  So I had to find a meet that had a 500m, so that our long sprinters had the chance to qualify for championships.  All of the 400m runners will run the 500m this weekend, except for Grace, and Jahari Coleman, who will be running the 400m.  We’ll also run our stacked 4x400m men’s relay as a bit of a dry run for Tyson.  I reached out to George Mason’s coach, who said they were definitely going all-out this weekend.  I’m still waiting to hear back from Mississippi State and Boston University.

“Scarlet is a smaller meet,” said Vives.  “Harvard will be there, as will George Mason and Mississippi State.  It’s about six or seven schools, and they’ll set up a few invitational events, one of which Grace will take part.  They’re trying to set up a national level 400m.  There are two women from Harvard capable of running 52; they both ran 54 in the 400m hurdles during the outdoor season.  And there’s usually an open athlete that comes to compete for those events.

“We’re also resting all of our distance runners this week,” said Vives.  “Distance coach Matt Jones wants to go through a two-week training cycle with them, after three weekends of racing in a row.  Now they get back to training with the two-week cycle, and they’ll race again at the Fastrack Invitational, and then another two-week training cycle leading into conference.”

Conference championships are three weeks from Friday.  The team is scheduled to have just one more weekend of competition before championships roll around, after which they will enter championships having undergone a two-week training cycle with no meet so they are fresh.

“It’s time to start fine tuning,” said Vives.  “The training now becomes less volume and more quality, and you build in more rest in between so that they start performing on weekends.  We’re just looking to set up these bigger meets down the road and keep our kids sharp.”

With conference championships looming, there are limited opportunities remaining to earn postseason qualifying berths, something Coach Vives hopes can be taken care of this weekend.

“We’re not looking at the team aspect, since the whole team won’t be at either meet, but we are looking to continue improving performances.  For someone like Grace, we’re hoping to get the qualifying time to avoid having to go to a last chance meet, for which she would still be tired from her workload at conference championships.  We’re hoping in the next two weekends we can take care of the qualifying for nationals.”

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