By Thomas Albano
The Broncs were able to defend their home turf when they hosted the Rider Invitational on April 12.
The men and women both finished first out of 17 and 19 schools, respectively.
Head Coach Bob Hamer was more than pleased with how well the teams performed.
“We had a really strong meet with some real good performances from many,” Hamer said. “It is always nice to compete at home in front of family and friends: There is a familiarity with the facility that is comforting to the athletes.”
The men were highlighted by the performances of: senior jumper Greg Smith, who won the long jump with a distance of 22’8”, a personal best; junior pole vaulter Anthony DeFranco, who won with a height of 15’9”, tying his own personal record; and freshman hurdler Devon Jefferson, who won the 110-meter hurdles in 15.19 seconds and finished sixth in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 56.89 seconds.
Other notable performances for the men included sophomore thrower Charles Wilks, who placed second in the discus, with a throw of 45.57 meters, and fifth in the shot put with a throw of 14.35 meters; junior George Solujich, who placed second in the shot put with a 16.57-meter throw, and fourth in the discus with a throwing distance of 44.42 meters; junior distance runner Nasser Zayer, who placed second in the 1500-meter run with a time of 3:59.60; and freshman jumper Kyle Bryant, who placed second in the triple jump with a distance of 45’5.25”, and fourth in the high jump with a 1.89-meter jump.
In addition, the men’s 4×100 relay team, consisting of DeFranco, freshman sprinters Wil Asamoah and Lamont Higgins, and senior sprinter Wilvenson Baptiste, finished in 41.95 seconds, good for fourth place, as well as qualifying them for the IC4A Championships.
Key performances from the women came from: junior distance runner Emily Ritter, who won the 3000-meter steeplechase, her first time competing in the race, with a Rider record of 11:02.73; graduate distance runner Megan Elgin, who won the 1500-meter run in 4:41.02; and senior Lauryn Strebeck, who won the triple jump with a distance of 12.01 meters.
After a successful first time competing in the race, Ritter wants to continue doing the steeplechase in the future.
“My goal is to qualify for the ECAC Championships in the steeplechase,” Ritter said. “Although I didn’t hit the qualifying time, breaking the school record was exciting.”
Elgin believes having a home-field advantage for this competition had a positive effect on the team.
“It’s great to see so many familiar faces around the track cheering us on, and I think we all really thrive on that,” Elgin said. “Collectively, we always try to compete at our highest potential, but I think competing at home provides an extra sense of obligation to not let competitors show us up.”
Other performances included: sophomore pole vaulter and hurdler Miranda Roberts, who finished eighth in the 100-meter hurdles and second in the pole vault with a height of 3.40 meters, breaking her own Rider record; senior thrower Rhea Phipps, who finished third in the hammer throw with a distance of 52.10 meters, and third in the shot put with an 11.72-meter throw; and sophomore hurdler Dashana Ransome, who won the 100-meter hurdles in 14.37 seconds and placed third in the long jump with a distance of 5.56 meters.
Also, the women’s 4×100 relay team of Ransome, Roberts and sophomore sprinters Alicia Osley and La’tazah Coleman finished first in 48.08 seconds.
The next events for track and field will be the Larry Ellis Invitational, which will take place on April 18-19 in Princeton, and the Greyhound Invitational on April 19 in Bethlehem, Pa.
Hamer hopes that the team will take advantage of the weeks leading up to the MAAC Championship.
“We will pick the best meet for each individual,” Hamer said. “Larry Ellis has some strict qualifying standards, so we can only compete those who have met the standards. We only have a few weeks left until MAACs, so we need to find good opportunities to compete and hopefully prepare for success during the championship season.”