Men’s and women’s teams both net second place at championship meet

Orchestrating 12 victories out of the 38 events at the Liberty League Indoor Championship Meet on Saturday at St. Lawrence University, both the men’s and women’s track and field teams fostered their athletic reputations with matching second place team scores. Achieving first place were Rochester Institute of Technology and St. Lawrence University for the men and women, respectively.

The distance crew topped the charts with victories in men’s and women’s events of the same type. The women’s distance medley relay was won by the team of seniors Isabel Johnson and Loki Rasmussen and juniors Taylor MacEwen and Jodi Wrzosek in 12:42.35. Earlier, Wrzosek nabbed a personal record by a matter of hundredths of a second in the women’s 800 meters with a time of 2:19.95. When she last competed in the race, she said “my goal for this season is to hopefully [set a personal record] in the 800m which means breaking 2:20.”She met that goal this past weekend.

Junior Colin Smith served as RPI’s anchor leg in the men’s DMR team, which also included classmate Garrett Davis and freshmen Cameron Czerpak and Frank Sinapi. They were first to cross the line out of four teams in 10:45.98. Before his joint effort in the relay, Davis dead-sprinted his way to the day’s only sub-two minute time in the mid-distance 800m.

Freshman Grant O’Connor qualified for the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference with his second place time of 15:09.56 in the 5000m. For this personal record, he was named men’s Rookie of the Meet.

Rensselaer grabbed the top spot in the women’s 5000m thanks to senior Shannon Trant, who crossed in 17:48.19. The runner-up was 12 seconds behind her, and junior Mary West took third with a time of 18:23.26.

Senior Tyler Yeastedt made another impressive showing in the weight throw, hitting a mark of 16.63 meters and earning ten points for Rensselaer. Then, he proceeded to conquer the shot put in 15.53m, doubling his contribution.

In the women’s weight throw, senior Andrea Ukleja won with 15.09 meters, with freshman Marissa Folk as runner-up and sophomore Renee Nuzzi in fourth. Third in the shot put was also Ukleja, followed again by Folk, who earned women’s Rookie of the Meet.

“I like how we constantly push each other and coach each other,” said Ukleja. “Especially this year, with so many freshmen on our team who have never thrown weight before and only one coach, it’s been great seeing the upperclassmen step up to teach them the correct technique for this event.

“Being on the track team and being a captain for two years has helped me grow in several ways. Most importantly, it has taught me patience and the importance of clear communication skills. For example, the weight throw is a very technical event, and not everyone understands things in the same way, so teaching it effectively can be challenging. You need to adapt your teaching style and examples to fit the thrower. Likewise, we are a big team between the men’s and women’s teams combined, and practicing and lifting with that many people poses several problems. Being able to communicate these problems with coaches and suggest solutions is necessary in order to help everyone practice and train effectively.”

On Saturday, January 6, junior Ben Fazio set a school record in the mile with a time of 4:11.25. The 29 other runners proved no match to his speed.

Utica College will host the Engineers this Saturday at the final regular indoor meet of the season, with the state championship now less than two weeks out.