Track & Field Set To Defend IC4A/ECAC Indoor Titles
ALBANY, N.Y. – Championship season continues for the University at Albany track & field program. This weekend, the Great Danes will make their final trip to Boston University’s Track and Tennis Center where they will look to defend their 2016-17 IC4A and ECAC Indoor titles.
Last season, the men’s team won its third IC4A Indoor title, scoring 88 points and defeating runners-up Connecticut and Northeastern, each of which had scored 57 points. The women won their first-ever ECAC Indoor titles, scoring 64 points ahead of Liberty’s 54.
The meet began with then-senior Mary Adeyeye breaking the school record in the women’s pentathlon to place fourth overall. Ryan Udvadia headlined the second day, breaking the school record in the 5,000m to place second overall.
In total, the Great Danes won three men’s and two women’s events en route to their team title sweep.
Last weekend, UAlbany competed in the America East Indoor Championships. The women won their sixth-straight title and eighth of their last nine, behind seven event victories and one championship meet record. The men, due to an unfortunate sequence of events in the final race of the meet, saw their 12-year winning streak snapped by UMass Lowell and placed second overall.
“We overcame a lot of adversity,” said Director of Track & Field Roberto Vives. “I feel bad for the kids. A lot went wrong, but the kids stepped up and did everything they could.
“The women were the class of the field,” Vives continued. “We’ve never performed in the 5,000m and the 3,000m as well as we did last weekend. And we scored in the mile and the distance relays. To have run 11:47 in the distance medley relay was really good.”
One of the highlights of the women’s performance was in the sprints, where for the second straight season the women won all four of the sprint events.
“The sprinters were awesome, and it’s a testament to Junior Burnett,” said Vives. “He’s an unbelievable coach. He’s committed and he has a lot of drive, and the athletes really respond to his passion.”
For the first time in six years the men’s and women’s team arrive at IC4A and ECAC Championships in different places, having not swept the America East Indoor titles. Even so, there are titles to defend, and IC4A and ECAC Championships require a different approach than last week.
“These meets are all about quality,” said Vives. “We will not be doubling anybody, but instead putting everyone in their best events where they have the best opportunities to score points.”
The field at IC4A and ECAC Championships is larger than at America East Championships, so fewer points are required to claim the team titles. But the strength of the field is traditionally difficult to predict because attending teams and individuals have differing motivations at this point in the season.
“These meets are always hard to predict,” said Vives. “We don’t know who is coming, who is tired, or who is focusing on NCAA Championships next week. Some schools may be using this weekend as a tune-up for nationals. So what we do is focus on ourselves and do what we are capable of doing.
“We had a lot of good performances this season,” Vives continued. “And when America East championships came around the student-athletes stepped it up even further. Everybody took it up a notch. The team really showed up last weekend and our competitors continue to keep moving up.”
Vives himself will not be in attendance at IC4A and ECAC Indoor Championships this weekend. He has been selected to coach the Puerto Rico delegation, which includes UAlbany alumna Grace Claxton in the women’s 400m, at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, England, which run at the same time. Still, he has left the team with a message ahead of their competition.
“This weekend really is more about quality,” said Vives. “We want to finish the season on a high note, maybe see a personal-best or two. I am humbled and honored to be their coach and I thank the student-athletes for believing in my vision. They are ready to shine and I am looking forward to a great weekend.”
IC4A and ECAC Indoor Championships begin Friday, March 2 at 2:30 p.m. with the women’s pentathlon. The men’s heptathlon will begin at 3:00 p.m.