By Thomas Albano
The track and field teams competed at the MAAC Championship in New York City on Feb. 21. Rider’s women finished second of eight teams and the men placed fourth of seven. This is also the third year in a row that the women’s team finished second.
Head Coach Bob Hamer was pleased with the women’s team, but felt the men’s team could have had just as good a finish.
“The women performed very well in many areas, and I’m really proud that they were able to finish second,” Hamer said. “Quinnipiac had a great meet and they were charging hard for us, but we were able to accumulate enough points to hold them off. The men underperformed as a team in the meet. In order for us to maximize our team placement and points, we need strong contributions from all event areas, and we had some areas where we came up short and it affected our overall point total.”
Top performers for the women’s team included senior jumper Taylor Harmon, who finished first in the high jump with a height of 1.65 meters, and junior distance runner Nicolette Mateescu, who finished second in the 5000-meter run in 17:03.44, a Rider record. Mateescu also placed fourth in the 3000-meter run with a time of 10:18.18.
Mateescu felt her performance proved that she was able to deal with her pre-game jitters.
“Finishing second in the 5000-meter was really exciting,” Mateescu said. “I was nervous going into the race, but everything settled down once the gun went off, and I just tried to stay with the front pack. They helped me through the race because it is easier when you have people to run with. I wasn’t sure how the 3000-meter was going to go, but it was very exciting to end up in fourth place.”
Other showings included freshman sprinter Cleopatra Morrison, who placed third in both the 60-meter and 200-meter dashes with respective times of 7.67 seconds and 25.88 seconds. Freshman thrower Stephanie Lombardo placed third in the shot put with a distance of 12.79 meters and freshman hurdler Lexie Fraction finished third in the 60-meter hurdles in 8.83 seconds.
The women’s distance medley relay team, made up of junior distance runners Emily Ritter and Stephanie Welte, freshman sprinter Victoria Brewer and senior sprinter Ashley Edwards, finished third in 11:50.44.
On the men’s side of competition, senior thrower George Solujich won the shot put with a distance of 16.81 meters, earning praise from Hamer after a long contest.
“George Solujich winning the shot put on his last throw was tremendous,” Hamer said. “He was one of the few that answered the bell when challenged by his opponents. He struggled a bit with his first five throws, but he was able to do what was necessary to win the event on his last throw.”
Other key performances came from two pole vaulters — senior Anthony DeFranco and sophomore Erik Adamcik. They placed second and third, both finishing with a height of 4.8 meters. Sophomore distance runner Jonathan Jackson finished second in the 800-meter run with a time of 1:50.53.
Hamer noted that other teams constantly stepped up.
“We need more depth on the teams and more consistent and impactful scoring in all event areas if we wish to contend for the MAAC title,” he said.
The next scheduled indoor meet is a Last Chance event on Feb. 27, before Rider goes to Boston for the IC4A/ECAC Championships on March 6-8, where its men will compete in 14 events and its women will compete in five. The first scheduled meet of the outdoor season is the Lafayette Invitational on March 28.
Hamer feels confident that his team will make progress as the weeks go by.
“We had a solid indoor season up to this point,” Hamer said. “We need to improve some areas but we will work on that as we approach the outdoor season. Our attention turns to the athletes that are competing at the ECAC/IC4A Championships. We have a quality group that has a chance to do very well in two weeks.”