Outdoor Track Visits Princeton For IC4A and ECAC Championships

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ALBANY, N.Y. – Conference championships are over, and the Last Chance Meet has been run.  All that remains for many University at Albany outdoor track athletes are IC4A and ECAC Championships this weekend, taking place at Princeton University from Friday, May 16 through Sunday, May 18.

“At this point in the season,” said Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Roberto Vives, “we are trying to get as many athletes as possible qualified for regionals.  And, if they are already qualified, improve their standing.”

“The men’s 4x100 relay, for example,” Vives continued, “will hopefully have two opportunities to run this weekend.  They are running without Kareem Morris, but they are still a strong team without him, and they should be able to hit about 40.3 or 40.2, in that range.  That should be enough to qualify.”

Morris, like many of his fellow seniors, will be attending their commencement ceremony, which conflicts with the championships this weekend.  Because of this, a regular occurrence on the outdoor calendar, the outdoor IC4A and ECAC Championships are approached differently than their indoor counterparts.

“Indoors we approach these meets with more of a team mentality, because we look to place highly in the team title,” Vives said.  “Outdoors, because of scheduling conflicts, we’re looking more individually, to get people qualified for later in the season.  But, if we qualify athletes to regionals in enough events, the teams could finish pretty well overall as a consequence.”

Another concern for the coaches and the athletes is having such a high-intensity meet coincide with the tail end of final exams.

“Training becomes tough with finals,” Vives said.  “So we try to get the work done early in the week, then send them on their own later.  If they missed a quality workout on Tuesday, we’ll try to have them do it Wednesday.  But there are a lot of variables during exam week.”

The men’s 400 features three athletes, Jonathan Santana, Taariq Jones, and Jason Tomlinson, who, according to Coach Vives, can all hit in the low 47s if they have a good day.  They will also run on the 4x400 relay looking for a regional berth.

“3:10 is about what it takes to qualify a 4x400,” said Vives, “and the men are shooting for about a 3:09.  They ran 3:11 in Puerto Rico back in March, so it’s possible, with the right race.”

James Sommer will be running the men’s steeplechase on the same track and at the same meet where the school record was set.  The coaching staff thinks Sommer can run about 10 seconds faster than his best time so far this season, 9:12.00.

“They’ll run the steeplechase under the lights, so the atmosphere will be great,” said Vives.  “James could really pop a big race in that environment.

Silvia Del Fava is running the 5,000, as preparation work for the 10,000 later in the season.  Though it will not be her primary event going forward, she has her sights set on Brittney Lane's school record of 16:21.12, set in 2013.

Veleisha Walker, school record holder in the women’s javelin, could potentially throw 45.00m this weekend.  Lauren Lopano is expected to continue to improve in the women’s discus.  And the coaches are hoping Abel Gilet can go out with a personal best in the shot put, competing in his last meet as a senior.

Alexander Bowen is the defending champion in the high jump, and will look to claim his second consecutive title.  He will face Cornell’s Montez Blair, his long-time in-state rival, and Pennsylvania’s Maalik Reynolds, with whom he tied in height in the championship section of the high jump at Penn Relays.

In the men’s 800, Dylan Lowry is a wild card.  He’s been improving all season and the coaching staff doesn’t anticipate that trend derailing this weekend.

“Dylan has been amazing all year,” said Vives.  “With the right race, the right heat, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him run under 1:50.  He’s a competitor.  He’ll go after it if it’s there.”

One final concern regarding potential regional qualifiers is the fact that many of the major conference championships will also take place this weekend, so some of the best athletes in the country will be looking at their last opportunity to continue their seasons in their own conference meet, with conference titles at stake.  Considering the manner in which athletes qualify for regionals (the top 48 in each event qualify), strong performances elsewhere could bump other quality performances out of contention.

Any athletes who have qualified for regionals will continue their season after this weekend.  NCAA East Regionals take place at the end of the month in Jacksonville, Florida, from Thursday, May 29 through Saturday, May 31.