By Victoria Lyons
The Rider track and field team has geared up for the indoor MAAC Championships, which take place tonight at 5 p.m., at the Armory in New York.
According to Head Coach Bob Hamer, the men’s side will have a shot at victory, but will have to overcome the tough competition from both Manhattan and St. Peter’s.
“We are expecting to be at our best and hopefully have some individuals contend for conference championships,” Hamer said. “So far in the indoor season there have been many athletes with strong performances, setting new Rider records and qualifying for IC4As, which is the consistent goal for the athletes in addition to having their best performances.”
Key athletes on the men’s side in this year’s MAACs will be the previous conference champions, such as juniors David Hightower and Dave Brown, sophomore Steven Brown and senior Michael Soroko. For the women, juniors Mia Riley, Erin McMullin, Ashley Hunter and Meg Elgin, sophomore Rhea Phipps and senior Heather Giovagnoli have had strong seasons.
“We are hopeful they can contribute greatly to our team performance,” Hamer said.
After losing to Manhattan by five points in the indoor MAACs last year, the men’s team is looking to edge them out this year.
“The Manhattan men have won every year since 1991, so they are very used to winning,” Hamer said. “They expect to win, and they rise to the occasion for the championship meet. St. Peter’s is very good and they will be in it as well.”
Senior Adam Haun and the rest of the men’s side believe they have a championship-caliber team.
“Our expectations going into MAACs are that we know we can win,” Haun said.
As for the women’s team, it has more ground to cover after placing fourth in the meet last year.
“The women are a better team this year and we are hopeful to improve on our final standings from last year,” Hamer said. “They are ready and very confident right now and I am excited for the opportunity to watch them compete.”
However, the other teams are not the only hurdles the Broncs will have to clear. The spreading of the norovirus on Rider’s campus has affected many athletes on the team, according to Hamer.
“We did our best to isolate them, get them the care they needed and give them all the support they needed to return to action,” he said. “As with any season or team, you will face adversity and you need to learn how to deal with it. That is what championship programs do; they see obstacles and they do not run from them.”
The expectations are high for both the men’s and women’s teams going into the MAACs, and now is the time to show their skills.
“Our goal is to raise our performance to a championship level and hopefully be there at the end,” Hamer said.