Track & Field Heads To IC4A & ECAC Outdoor Championships
ALBANY, N.Y. – Championship season continues for the University at Albany track & field program with a trip to Princeton University this weekend for IC4A and ECAC Outdoor Championships. The Great Danes just swept their 10th straight America East Outdoor Championship meet, with the men claiming their 14th straight outdoor title and the women winning their 10th-straight.
“Our student-athletes really stepped up,” said Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Roberto Vives. “We couldn’t ask more of them. They all performed well. We saw meet records in the men’s triple jump and the women’s 4x100m relay. The women were just the cream of the field. I really thought it was our best team performance ever. Normally there are about 25% mishaps in a meet like this, and this year we had much less than that. The kids really stepped up and performed like true champions.”
The men and women each won eight events over the weekend, with the women setting a new championship meet record in the 4x100m relay and the men seeing a new championship record in the triple jump. Further, most of the performances at the championship meet were seasonal or personal bests.
“A big part of what happens is trying to get our student-athletes to try to peak at the right time,” said Vives. “And I think we finally got that formula down. You see with the distance program Coach Jones trying to go every two weeks. With our short sprinters Junior limits them amount of events they do at a meet. With our jumpers, for some of them it was only their third meet. Sometimes less is more. Everybody seemed to peak.”
For the duration of the weekend, the Great Danes scored points in all but two events, the women’s pole vault and the women’s 5,000m. UAlbany did not field a competitor in either event.
“The performances at the top spread out to the whole team,” said Vives. “And we kept emphasizing that everyone counts, that we need everyone, and that the championship can be won by as little as half a point. And our kids really bought into that. Our program is built on the shoulders of our alumni who have set the bar high and now kids have embraced that.”
Perhaps the most dominating performers of the meet were the women’s short sprinters. Not only did they set a championship meet record in the 4x100m relay by nearly a full second, the Great Danes claimed nine of 16 total scoring positions in the 100m and 200m, including sweeping the top four places in the 100m.
“Our short sprint group, on the women’s side especially, has been tremendous,” said Vives. “They definitely stepped up to the challenge. The group is impressive, and I think they have national aspirations. If they stay healthy through regionals they can qualify for national championships in Oregon and run with the best from the SEC and the ACC.”
Looking to this weekend’s meet, the most noteworthy change this year is in the format of the schedule. For the first time, excluding last year where the weather forced dramatic scheduling changes, all events will be contested as single-round timed finals.
“I think the format change has made the meet better,” said Vives. “After coming off a conference championship our kids are still recovering and still tired. At this point we’re looking to get people to the next level, which is qualifying for regionals. We have a few knocking on the door individually, and few others are comfortably in the qualifying field already. This meet, the whole emphasis is to get people qualified.”
With the format change comes a change in the required approach for student-athletes who otherwise would have prepared to run multiple rounds of their event at a championship meet.
“Where the new format is good is that the student-athlete can focus on one race and get a quality performance right off the bat,” said Vives. “But where it’s different is they have to be warmed up and prepared. You don’t want afterwards to feel like you weren’t ready for your single opportunity, so we have to do more with them up front to make sure they’re ready to go.”
Unlike the indoor season, where the IC4A and ECAC Championship meets hold a higher significance to teams in the region, the outdoor meet doesn’t necessarily hold the same weight, due to a number of factors such as conflicts with other conference championships as well as commencement weekends. In years past, under the previous format, UAlbany seniors would have to choose between competing in the finals of their events, should they have qualified, or walking at their commencement ceremonies.
“It’s hard to know who we’ll see this weekend,” said Vives. “Outdoor IC4A and ECAC Championships are kind of optional, and a lot of schools have their conference championships this weekend. And there is a meet at Army this weekend as well that may draw teams away. But we will focus all of our attention on IC4A and ECAC Championships.”
IC4A and ECAC Outdoor Championships will begin Saturday, May 12 at 10:00 a.m.