Track & Field Returns to Boston
ALBANY, N.Y. – The University at Albany track & field program competed at the Armory in New York City last weekend for the first time since the 2015 season. Friday night, the Great Danes will visit Harvard for the first time in the Division I era for the Crimson Elite Invitational. Saturday, the team will compete in Boston University’s Scarlet & White Invitational.
Four school records were set last weekend at the Armory in the Dr. Sander Invitational Columbia Challenge. The men placed fifth in the team standings and the women placed 12th among some of the top teams in the nation, including Oregon, UCLA, Villanova, and Georgetown.
“I thought we got out of the weekend what we were hoping to get,” said Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Roberto Vives. “Our student-athletes went and they competed and they weren’t intimidated. Setting four school records in one weekend is tremendous. We were hoping for top-five on both sides but the competition was tremendous, it was really hard to score. I thought that people stepped up and did well. People are starting to come along.
“We did well,” Vives continued. “I think we’re ahead of where we were at this point last year, from a quality perspective. It’s still January and we’re seeing top-level performances. This week we’re looking at Boston, then we have Tyson and Fastrack, and the conference. I think we’re in a good spot.”
Dayleen Santana Rodriguez broke her own record twice in the women’s 60m. Sidney Gibbons, who had tied the men’s 60m hurdles record two weeks ago, also broke the record twice. Stephanie Osuji lowered her own women’s 200m record, and Tara Belinsky broke the shot put record on both her third attempt and further on her sixth attempt of the day.
“In the trials, Dayleen beat Ariana Washington, who is a U.S. Olympian, and she finished behind only one of the women from Oregon,” said Vives. “Sidney is knocking on the door of going to NCAAs. Stephanie did really well breaking her own school record, coming back after Friday night. And Tara had a tremendous throw on her last attempt after breaking the school record on her third attempt to get into finals.”
Regarding the sprinters specifically, their ability to run personal bests in the same meet at this point in their careers is a testament to their training and hard work.
“It shows that the training is working for them,” said Vives. “A lot of times you want to train a sprinter to be strong, to be able to run rounds. They’re doing that type of work, where they’re able to come back after their first race and run even faster in a final. That’s what you look for. Dayleen and Sidney ran personal bests in the trials when they were pretty much alone, so you knew that they would race well in the finals when their competition would run with them all the way through.”
This weekend, the team returns to Boston for two meets. Though not run in tandem, there is a pseudo partnership between Harvard and Boston University for the two meets on the schedule.
“What Harvard did this year was invite schools to race on their fast straightaway on Friday,” said Vives. “It’s still a separate meet from Boston University but the way they posed it to other schools was to run one meet on a fast straightaway at Harvard and another meet the following day on the fast oval at BU. We’re running some of our people Friday night in the 60m and 60m hurdles. They will just run once on Friday, and on Saturday they will run in the 200m, which is what we want them to focus on this week. The hurdlers will either hurdle both days or hurdle Friday and run a sprint on Saturday.”
The conference championships this year will once again be held at Boston University’s Track and Tennis Center. The Scarlet & White Invitational is a chance for the entire team to familiarize themselves with the facility before championships, where only a smaller segment of the team competed there back in December.
“We’re taking the whole team to Boston,” said Vives. “We told them that they will have three opportunities to make it to the postseason, and this is the third of those opportunities. After this meet we will emphasize the athletes who will compete in conference championships and beyond.”
With the postseason and championship season looming, the ultimate message Vives wishes to impart on the team is one of opportunity.
“Take advantage of this opportunity,” said Vives. “It’s a great facility. It will be some of the athletes’ first time running at BU, where conference championships are this year, so they will have a chance to test out the facility. In December we took a smaller group but after this weekend everyone will have had a chance to see the facility. There’s not any pressure, it’s not a scoring meet. We just want to keep working through and improving so that we can start making decisions for the postseason.”
The Crimson Elite Invitational begins Friday, February 2 at 2:00 p.m. The Scarlet & White Invitational begins Saturday, February 3 at 10:00 a.m.