UAlbany Announces 32 Track & Field/Cross Country Additions For 2013-2014

ALBANY, N.Y. - University at Albany Director of Track and Field and Cross Country Roberto Vives announced on Monday, August 26 that 32 student-athletes will be joining the Great Danes’ program for the 2013-14 academic year.  Ten women and 22 men will join the top squad in the America East, including nine transfer students and four Capital Region natives.

“The incoming group of student-athletes is very talented, and I am sure they will help us achieve our goal of being a top-25 team nationally,” said Vives.

The Great Danes welcome home two former Capital Region stars in transfers Kyle Plante (Colonie Central/University of South Florida) and Molly Pezzulo (Saratoga Springs/Auburn University).  Plante is a former high school national champion in the 200-meter dash whose all-around talent will improve the sprints, hurdles, and jumps.  On the track, Plante has personal best marks of 23.98 (200m), 38.23 (300m), 53.32 (400m), 8.12 (55HH), and 59.76 (400IH).  Plante adds personal bests of 5’6” (HJ), 18’1.75” (LJ), and 3,603 points (Pentathlon) in field events.  Pezzulo’s personal bests of 4:39.13 (1,500m), 5:03.99 (1-mile), 9:56.13 (3,000m), and 22:32.20 (6K-XC) will add to an already deep distance squad.

Jessica Donohue (North Shore) leads the Danes’ freshman class with bests of 9:59.85 (3,000m), 10:53.53 (2-mile), 17:28.08 (5,000m), and 18:20.40 (5K-XC).  Johanna Smith (Fayetteville-Manlius) joins Donohue on the distance squad, bringing with her a personal best of 18:39.00 (5K-XC).  Finally, UAlbany adds more local talent in Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake stars Schuyler Pruyn (18:14.38 – XC) and Sheila Bashant (18:45.12 – XC).

On the sprint side, Gabby Maldonado (Sleepy Hollow) brings additional depth to the flat sprints with personal bests of 25.00 (200m), 40.75 (300m), and 56.52 (400m), while Cienna Simon (Jamestown) brings added depth to the hurdles, having posted personal best of 8.55 (55HH) and 9.19 (60HH).  Multis athletes Nailah Braxton (Bay Shore) (3,084 – Pentathlon, 5’6.5” – HJ) and Mary Adeyeye (Lakeland) (2,791 – Pentathlon, 8.76 – 55HH) round out the women’s newcomers. 

Not to be outdone, the men’s squad adds 22 members to the reigning America East Championship squad.  Leading this strong group are Youssef Benzamia (Lycee Thierry Maulner, Nice, France), Nathan Hiett (Basha HS, Arizona), and Larry Ramirez (Pleasantville HS, NJ/Hampton University).  Benzamia is a former French Junior National Champion in the high jump with a best mark of 7’1”.  He also has performances of 23’10.75” (LJ) and 47’3” (TJ).  Hiett has a personal best mark of 16’ 6” in the pole vault and Ramirez has top times of 1:51.01 (800m) and 53.21 (400IH).

The sprinting squad welcomes two transfer students from St. Thomas Aquinas.  Andy Nicolas (Midwood), who has personal bests of 6.60 (55m), 21.76 (200m), 34.23 (300m), and 48.63 (400m), and Jason Tomlinson (Harry S. Truman), whose bests include 22.00 (200m), 34.59 (300m), and 48.61 (400m), will help bolster the Danes’ short and long sprint events.  They are joined by transfer Jaymen Teemer (Long Beach/Monroe College), who brings bests of 7.04 (60m) and 10.89 (100m).  Additionally, Joshua Wray (Rush-Henrietta) joins the squad with bests of 22.17 (200m), 35.32 (300m), and 49.08 (400m), as well as CHSAA 100m champion Robert Harris III (Cardinal Hayes) (11.01), and 100m sprinter Mailk Murray (Schenectady) (11.08).

The jumping squad adds two more transfer students. Michael Hall Jr. (Harry S. Truman/American International College) leads the way with bests of 6’6” (HJ), 23’11” (LJ), and 45’0.75” (TJ).  He is joined by pole vaulter and Donald DiBari (North Rockland/City College of New York) with a personal best of 14’.  Finally, incoming freshman Stefan Buechele (Arlington) (15’- PV), Kingsley Ogbonna (Walter Panas) (6’8”- HJ), Justyce Pollitt (St. Augustine Prep, NJ) (22’9.5”- LJ), and Philip Blanda (St. Joseph by the Sea) (22’2.75”- LJ) round out the jumpers.

On the throwing side, UAlbany welcomes javelin throwers Phillip Udeogu (Seton Hall Prep, NJ) (184’9), and Anthony D’Angelo (Shelton, CT) (171’4”), in addition to shot putter Eric Del Vescovo (Ridgefield, NJ) (54’9”). 

Mid-Distance/Distance runners Chad Barker (Elmont Memorial) (1:22.82 – 600m), Connor Farrell (Fayetteville-Manlius) (2:31.45 – 1,000m), Patrick Rowan (St. John the Baptist) (1:56.97 – 800m) and transfer Peter Schweitzer (Arlington/SUNY Delhi) (16:23.16 – 5K XC), round out the men’s recruits.

“We are looking forward to seeing this recruiting class in action," Vives said. "This group is definitely going to turn some heads."

2013-2014 University at Albany Women's Track & Field



Hometown (High School/Previous College)

Mary Adeyeye


Mohegan Lake, N.Y. (Lakeland)

Sheila Bashant


Ballston Lake, N.Y. (Ballston Lake-Burnt Hills)

Nailah Braxton

Multis/High Jump

Bay Shore, N.Y. (Bay Shore)

Jessica Donohue


Glen Head, N.Y. (North Shore)

Gabrielle Maldonado


Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. (Sleepy Hollow)

Molly Pezzulo


Saratoga Springs, N.Y. (Saratoga Springs /Auburn University)

Kyle Plante


Albany, N.Y. (Colonie Central /University of South Florida)

Schuyler Pruyn


Rexford, N.Y. (Ballston Lake-Burnt Hills)

Cienna (CC) Simon


Jamestown, N.Y. (Jamestown)

Johanna (Hannah) Smith


Manlius, N.Y. (Fayetteville-Manlius)

2013-14 University at Albany Men's Track & Field



 Hometown (High School)

Chad Barker


Elmont, N.Y. (Elmont Memorial)

Youssef Benzamia


 Nice, France (Lycee Thierry Maulner)

Philip Blanda

Long Jump

 St. Joseph by the Sea, N.Y. (Staten Island)

Stefan Buechele

Multis/Pole Vault

 Pleasant Valley, N.Y. (Arlington)

Anthony D’Angelo


 Shelton, Conn. (Shelton)

Eric Del Vescovo


 Ridgefield Park, N.J. (Ridgefield Park)

Donald DiBari

Mulits/Pole Vault

Thiells, N.Y. (North Rockland HS/CCNY)

Connor Farrell


 Fayetteville, N.Y. (Fayetteville-Manlius)

Michael Hall Jr.


 Bronx, N.Y. (Harry S. Truman HS/American International College)

Robert Harris III


 Bronx, N.Y. (Cardinal Hayes)

Nathan Hiett

Pole Vault

 Chandler, Ariz. (Basha)

Andy Nicolas


 Brooklyn, N.Y. (Midwood/St. Thomas Aquinas College)

Malik Murray


 Schenectady, N.Y. (Schenectady)

Kingsley Ogbonna

High Jump

 Cortlandt Manor, N.Y. (Walter Panas)

Justyce Pollitt

Long Jump

 Richland, N.J. (Saint Augustine)

Larry Ramirez


 Pleasantville, N.J. (Pleasantville/Hampton University)

Patrick Rowan


 West Islip, N.Y. (St. John the Baptist)

Peter Schweitzer


Poughquag, NY (Arlington HS/SUNY Delhi)

Jaymen Teemer


 Long Beach, N.Y. (Long Beach/Monroe College)

Jason Tomlinson


 Bronx, N.Y. (Harry S. Truman/St. Thomas Aquinas College)

Phillip Udeogu


 Orange, N.J. (Seton Hall Prep)

Joshua Wray


 West Henrietta, N.Y. (Rush-Henrietta)