Track Visits Princeton For IC4A/ECAC Championships
ALBANY, N.Y. – Last weekend, the University at Albany track & field program swept the men's and women's America East Outdoor Championships for the ninth consecutive season. The men won their 13th straight team title and the women won their ninth straight. This weekend, championship season continues with IC4A and ECAC Outdoor Championships at Princeton University.
After holding a small lead through the first of two days of competition, the men scored 166 points to claim victory over runner-up UMBC, who scored 139 points. The women, however, were in fourth place after day one, 31 points behind host New Hampshire. The women rallied on day two, making up the deficit and extending their lead to defeat New Hampshire 198-140.
“I told the women if we could score over 170 points we could win,” said Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Roberto Vives. “No heroics, just go and do what you're capable of. They ended up scoring 198 points, and looked good all the way around.”
One of the major contributing factors in the women's victory was the group of four sprinters who made up the 4x100m relay. In addition to winning the relay event, all four women qualified for finals in the 100m and 200m, taking up 50% of the available spots in both finals.
“It was one of our expectations that all four women would qualify in both sprint finals,” said Vives. “Our kids really stepped up and did well.”
Despite the men's lead after the first day, UMBC started closing in, especially after the 400m hurdles where UAlbany had no finalists and the Retrievers swept the top three places, earning 24 points.
“With the guys, we knew it would be close, but we thought it would be close with UMass Lowell,” said Vives. “We did a lot better the second day than we thought we would. Our relays kept us in the hunt.
“We needed everybody to step up,” Vives continued. “With the men we had a mishap early on where Eric, our indoor champion in the shot put didn't make finals. Then at the triple jump Jordan had two fouls. But then Ryan won the 1,500m, an event we didn't really focus on with him. Our young 4x800m, all four of them are freshmen. Jake ran 1:52 and the rest ran 1:53s. The 400m hurdles was a big swing for UMBC, so that's an event we know we need to develop.”
Ultimately, both the men and the women scored enough points to secure their respective team victories, keeping the championship streak alive for another year.
“I thought we did what we had to do. Everyone was engaged. We came in the second day with a lot of energy. It was rainy and dreary on the first day and the focus was missing a little bit. The weather improved a lot on the second day and it felt more like the championship experience.”
The team now turns its attention to IC4A and ECAC Outdoor Championships. There was a new level of excitement and expectation regarding the meets this season because for the first time in years the meets did not conflict with commencement, meaning the seniors would not have to choose which event to attend. Also, the men and women swept IC4A and ECAC Indoor Championships for the first time this past indoor season. But as outdoor progressed, the objective for this weekend started to change.
“When you're going through the year you put goals out there,” said Vives. “But during the course of the year you adjust those goals based on what you see. I think that is one of the major things you have to do and recognize as a coach. Our team is tired. We put it all out there last week. For me to ask them to go again, and with exams starting, we're not going to do that.”
So despite the rare opportunity the calendar has afforded the team, particularly regarding senior availability across all three days of competition, the coaching staff will instead target three specific areas this weekend, instead of looking to go all out for a team title.
“We're going to use the IC4A and ECAC meets for either a tune-up for regionals for those who have marks, for those who want to get a regional mark, and for those who have qualified for this weekend and want to compete,” said Vives. We asked the kids to do a lot this year. They won six major championships. We've done a lot of traveling. We just think the smartest thing to do right now is to use these meet for those reasons, and not tax our kids.”
The hope with removing the focus on a team goal is that the competition environment will be more relaxed, allowing the student-athletes to enjoy the experience to a higher degree and take advantage of the competitive field instead of also having to worry about scoring points for the team.
“Sometimes when you're relaxed you perform better, instead of having all the pressure on you to perform well in multiple events like last weekend,” said Vives. “I'm hoping to see some additional regional qualifiers, and for those that don't qualify for regionals, to have them end on a positive note.”
Competition starts Friday, May 12 at 4:30 p.m. and runs through Sunday, May 14.