Indoor Track Kicks Off Season At Great Dane Classic
Albany, N.Y.— After starting the season with an intrasquad scrimmage at the RACC Classic in December, the University at Albany indoor track and field team will kick off their official season this weekend, when they host the 13th Great Dane Classic. The meet is scheduled to begin on Saturday, at 12:30 PM with the 60-meter dash as the first event on the track.
“The student-athletes are excited and ready to go for the season,” said Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Roberto Vives. “It’s a quality meet and a good test to see early on where our athletes stand.”
The team will compete for the first time at the new Ocean Breeze Complex in Staten Island, N.Y. Like other quality indoor tracks, Ocean Breeze features eight lanes around a 200-meter MONDO track. The track is hydraulically banked, which allows the track to be raised or lowered for different races throughout the meet.
Despite the complex being away, Ocean Breeze will now serve as the the UAlbany teams’ home facility, and the location of four other meets this indoor season. It is also where the America East Championships will be hosted this year, which will work towards the teams’ advantage.
“I think hosting your own meet—especially in a brand new facility— is going to being an exciting experience for the student-athletes,” said Vives. “The first meet is always a little jittery. By hosting, our athletes will have a sense of comfort and a better overall performance. Even though it’s away, it gives you feel this is our meet.”
“We’re only five weeks away from the America East Conference Championship,” Vives adds. ”This meet will be a way to gauge their fitness and see where they’re at.”
In the past, the UAlbany team returned to campus in early January. The coaching staff set the team to open later than it has in previous years with the hopes that the athletes would be fresh through the indoor and outdoor season.
“We’re using a schedule that mirrors the major track and field programs,” said Vives. "By starting later, we ensure that our student-athletes don’t run out of gas towards the end of the season—especially in an Olympic year. Our idea is to focus on both seasons—indoor and outdoor—and beyond for the student-athletes to qualify in junior worlds, nationals, and even the Olympics. “
The field holds 1,500 athletes with over 60 schools and clubs being featured—the most the meet has ever had. Many division-one schools are set to compete, including University at Buffalo, UConn, and fellow conference team, UMBC. A mix of countries will be represented including Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Guyana, the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and others.
“We’ve got some talented athletes, schools clubs, and countries, hoping to put down some good marks and get national qualifiers,” said Associate Director of Track & Field and cross country Todd Wolin. “If our athletes focus on themselves, and do what they are capable of doing, good things will happen.”
“We’re looking forward to start of the season,” Vives said. “An Olympic year is always exciting. The team is doing very well, so we’re happy. I stress the importance of the student-athletes to be champions. Champions in the classroom, competition, and in the community.”