Men's 4x400m Relay Sets School Record; Track Returns From New York And Boston
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. & BOSTON – The University at Albany track and field program fielded competitors at two meets this weekend. The bulk of the competitors returned to Ocean Breeze for the Villanova Invitational, while a handful ventured to Boston University for the Scarlet & White Invitational.
As was the case last week, the Villanova meet at Ocean Breeze featured stringent entry standards, with each team only allotted three competitors per event. Additionally, the UAlbany coaching staff elected not to race any of the distance runners this weekend, opting instead to undertake a two week training cycle in preparation for conference championships.
The track events at the Villanova Invitational began with the preliminary round of the 60m hurdles. Niamani Morrison qualified for finals in third place in 8.73, and Chibugo Ike qualified in seventh in 8.89. Nichole Anderson placed 13th in 9.05 and Sara Volmar placed 28th in 9.99. On the men’s side, Sidney Gibbons qualified for finals in second place in 8.22. Jake Coveney placed 10th in 8.65.
In the 60m dash, Dayleen Santana Rodriguez qualified for finals in second place in 7.53, and Nicole Dodrill qualified seventh in 7.76. Chanel Smith placed 16th in 7.94. For the men, Robert Harris III placed eighth in 6.99, Osiris Nicholson placed ninth in 6.99 (displaced by thousandths), and Lamine Gueye placed 13th in 7.08.
Since the distance runners were not competing this weekend, the next event on the track for the Great Danes was the finals of the 60m hurdles. Morrison placed second overall in a personal-best 8.55, followed by Ike in sixth in 8.83. Gibbons won the men’s hurdles in a personal-best 8.01. Both Morrison and Gibbons rank first in the America East.
Santana Rodriguez placed second in the 60m dash finals in 7.52, followed by Dodrill in fifth in 7.73. Santana Rodriguez’s time ties her personal-best and indoor school record set three weeks ago at the Great Dane Classic. Dodrill satisfied the ECAC qualifying standard.
Stefan Buechele was the Great Danes’ sole competitor in the 400m, as the primary quarter-milers attended the Scarlet & White Invitational instead. Buechele placed 11th overall in the men’s race in 51.75, an indoor collegiate best.
The final track event for the Great Danes was the 200m. Stephanie Osuji placed second for the women in 24.75, followed by Santana Rodriguez in sixth in 25.05, and Dodrill in 15th in 25.90. Harris III placed fifth for the men in 22.21.
Moving to the field events, Chinwe Igwe placed second in the women’s weight throw in 60-05.00, followed by Tara Belinsky in ninth in 48-06.75, Amiynah Campbell in 13th in 47-02.50, and Lundy Spinner in 16th in 46-08.75. Jonathan Eustache won the men’s weight throw in a season-best 64-02.50.
Buechele also competed in the men’s pole vault, where he cleared a height of 14-11.00. In the long jump, Coveney placed 11th overall in 21.05.25. Belinsky placed second in the women’s shot put in 44-11.00, followed by Mary Adeyeye in eighth in 40-10.50, and Zoe Doolittle in 12th in 39-08.00. Eric DelVescovo placed third in the men’s shot put in 53-00.75.
The final field event was the high jump. Anika Hibbard placed second for the women, clearing 5-07.00, and her sister, Letti Hibbard, placed 13th, clearing 5-03.00. For the men, Campbell claimed victory in the event, clearing an indoor-best 7-01.50. Kingsley Ogbonna placed second, clearing 7-00.25. It was only the second time in their careers, and first indoors, that both Campbell and Ogbonna cleared seven feet at the same meet (2016 UConn Northeast Challenge).
SCARLET & WHITE INVITATIONAL
The trip to Boston University’s Scarlet & White Invitational was made out of necessity. UAlbany had so far not had anyone qualify for the postseason meets in the 500m, and none of the meets on the schedule before America East Indoor Championships included a 500m race on the schedule. So, Coach Vives brought the 400m squad to BU’s Track and Tennis Center this weekend to give the sprinters a chance to qualify in the event so that the team had options when championship meets start rolling around.
Five from the women’s team and six from the men’s team competed in the 500m on Saturday. The women’s race was first on the schedule. Halie Snyder placed sixth overall in 1:14.28. Akua Williams placed ninth in 1:14.79. Kiyah Owens placed 11th in 1:15.78, which breaks the freshman school record of 1:16.82 set in 2013 by Dominique Claudio. Osayi Owie placed 12th in 1:16.03. Aliyah Banks placed 15th in 1:17.20. Snyder, Williams, Owens, and Owie each satisfied the ECAC qualifying standard.
The men swept the top four places in their 500m. Myles Banfield won the event in 1:02.86. Jason Tomlinson placed second in 1:03.22. Matthew LeLiever placed third in 1:03.37. Momodou Jobe placed fourth in 1:04.38. Evan DeGraw placed sixth in 1:05.07, and Austin Sperl placed seventh in 1:05.76. Banfield, Tomlinson, LeLiever, Jobe, and DeGraw each hit the IC4A qualifying standard.
Two of the sprinters who made the trip, Grace Claxton and Jahari Coleman, ran in the 400m instead of the 500m. Claxton was part of the top-flight invitational event, while Coleman is more of a short sprinter and is still building strength in her freshman season.
Claxton won the 400m in 53.10, her second fastest indoor time ever. Coleman placed 18th in 59.03. Claxton's time ranks 10th nationally, putting her within the top-16 necessary to qualify for NCAA Indoor Championships.
Later in the meet, the men raced in the 4x400m relay. The team of Jobe (48.2), LeLiever (46.8), Tomlinson (46.9), and Banfield (46.4) placed first overall in 3:08.49, defeating Mississippi State, George Mason, Virginia, and Boston University. The mark would rank 14th nationally among performances occurring before this weekend’s meets, and is a new school record, surpassing the previous mark of 3:09.39 set in 2006 by the team of Junior Burnett, Stephen Evans, Gered Burns, and Joe Greene.
Despite not fielding a full squad, the men managed to place sixth in the team standings with 44 points, and the women placed 13th with 16 points.
Next week features one of the most prominent national caliber meets on the indoor schedule with the Tyson Invitational at the University of Arkansas. Only a few Great Danes will make that trip, while the others will once again compete at Ocean Breeze, this time for the Fastrack National Invitational.