Track and field impress despite conditions

The men and women's outdoor track and field teams competed on Friday at Bucknell University and on Sunday at SUNY Brockport.

Assistant coach Mike Woods described Friday as "the best day weather-wise we've had all year." Sunday, on the other hand, was marked by "huge gusts of wind, sleet and snow" according to head coach Dave Prevosti. Both meets were a success for the Knights, who booked multiple wins in both men's and women's events.

Sophomore Marissa Liberati stole the show on Friday, winning the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 10 minutes, 37 seconds. The time automatically qualified her for the NCAA tournament and set a SUNYAC record.

Liberati raced against elite runners from Boston College, Georgetown University, Cornell University and other top Division I schools. Woods said he was surprised Liberati finished the race at all; approaching the second-to-last steeple, Liberati was knocked down so hard that "the whole stadium winced," Woods said. "I had at least ten coaches come up to me and tell me how tough she was."

Another impressive performance came from freshman Patrick Wortner, who ran the 10,000 with a time of 32:09, the fourth fastest of the SUNYAC. Senior Bobby Henchen ran the 5,000 in 14:41 and senior Lee Gabler finished the 1,500 in 3:58. Senior Bill Juda missed qualifying for NCAAs in the steeplechase with a near-qualifying time of 9:24.

Sunday's meet was "a day not fit for man nor beast" Woods said. The Knights managed to put their best foot forward nonetheless.

Senior Eric Rickman won the shot-put with a 14.79-meter throw and placed second in the discus with a throw of 38.35. Prevosti said Rickman's feats are "amazing if you had seen him back when he was a freshman."

Also coming up big on the men's side was junior Nwana Okafor, who won by more than a foot with a 6.76 distance in the long jump. The accomplishment qualified Okafor for the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference in May. Senior Jon Brotsch won the 400 in 50.14 and missed qualifying for ECACs by just four one-hundredths of a second. Junior Greg Izzo won the 400 hurdles by more than a full second, in 57.47.

On the women's side, senior Maria Barbaglia placed fourth in the weight throw with an ECAC-qualifying toss of 44.05. Junior Julie Cook won the high jump with a leap of 1.55. Senior Brittany Talani won the discus with a throw of 34.07, a distance "even more significant because the weather was so poor" according to Prevosti.

The Knights host the Geneseo Invitational on Saturday. The first event starts at 10 a.m. and the meet will last until approximately 5 p.m.