By Carlos Toro and Thomas Regan
The track and field teams opened up their outdoor season with the Lafayette Invitational on March 29.
In a competition that included Colgate, East Stroudsburg, Lafayette, Lehigh, Moravian and Westchester, Rider’s men were able to come away with fourth and the women finished sixth.
Despite the men’s team’s final standing, it had two throwers — senior George Solujich and senior Andrew Pozo — secure IC4A qualifying distances. Solujich took first place in the shot put with a distance of 15.95 meters, and both Pozo’s 49.39-meter discus toss and his 51.05-meter hammer granted him second.
Without the worry of obtaining a qualifying distance, Solujich has now set his sights on the MAACs.
“I believe it was very important to get the IC4A mark out of the way early in the season,” he said. “Now I will move towards getting ready for the MAAC championship and hitting a regional qualifying mark. As a team we will keep working hard in all aspects working towards competing at the MAAC championship.”
The men’s squad also saw its sophomore hurdler Devon Jefferson win both of his events — the 110-meter hurdles, in which his time qualified him for the IC4As, and the 400-meter hurdles. Freshman Juan Baxter was the runner-up in the 110-meter hurdles.
In the long jump, the Broncs took second, third and fourth place behind the performances of freshman Tyree Adams, sophomore Kyle Bryant and freshman Shabazz Shuler, while doing the same in the triple jump behind Shuler, senior David Prater and Bryant.
The Bronc men also took first in the pole vault and 400 meter with performances from sophomore Erik Adamcik and junior Darien Edwards, respectively. Sophomore Lamont Higgins also placed second in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.95 seconds, and fourth in the 200-meter dash at 22.27 seconds.
Not only did the men throw their way to first-place finishes, but the women enjoyed that success as well. Freshman Stephanie Lombardo won both the shot put at 13.22 meters and the discus at 43.32 meters.
In the women’s triple jump, Olivia Rosenberger’s 11.20-meter distance topped Lehigh’s Kiana Wright. Juliaan Brand also finished first in the 400-meter with a time of 1:06.56, and Madeline Hummel placed third at 1:07.34.
Head Coach Bob Hamer was impressed by the individual performances, particularly with those players who qualified.
“It is always important to start off a season with a good performance. It does really set the tone for the entire year,” Hamer said. “I was really happy with the throws group. They did a great job of performing at their best on that day and there efforts were rewarded with great results.”
The Broncs will continue their season when they head to Williamsburg, Virginia, for the Colonial Relays on April 2-4, where Hamer hopes his team will seize its chance to improve.
“We need to take advantage of the opportunities when they present themselves,” Hamer said. “The season is short and we need to be ready to compete at a high level. We will be at the Colonial Relays this week and there will be great competition in every event and we need to raise our game to that level. We can not always say that we will have a chance next week because we are running out of weeks.”