Distance medley relay teams place third at NCAA Championships

The Geneseo indoor track and field teams capped off their seasons on Saturday March 8 with third-place finishes for the men’s and women’s distance medley relay teams in the NCAA Division III Championships in Naperville, Ill. All eight runners received All-American honors.

The quartet of sophomore Keira Wood, junior Allison Hoh, senior Cailin Kowalewski and graduate student Alyssa Smith entered the race after breaking the school record at the Tufts University’s Last Chance Meet a week prior with a time of 11 minutes and 40 seconds.

Wood led off the race in the 1,200-meter leg.

“It’s always a battle up front, but [Wood] got up near the top of the pack, did her job, ran really well and got us into the lead group,” head coach Dave Prevosti said.

Hoh ran a “phenomenal” time, according to Prevosti, in the 400-meter portion of the race, despite not having a competitor in front of her, as had happened at Tufts.

In the 800-meter leg of the race, Kowalewski battled back and forth with the runner from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, the eventual race champion.

She gave the lead to Smith, who went up against Oshkosh senior-standout Christy Cazzola, winner of both the mile and the 5,000-meter race. Cazzola, a 27-year-old mother of two who regularly wins races over Division I athletes, held off both Smith and the anchor leg from second-place Middlebury College in the final laps for the victory.

Even though Geneseo placed third, the team shattered the school record once again, finishing in 11:34.65, just off of the meet record and less than two and a half seconds off of the all-time Division III record.

“There was just no letdown from any of our women,” Prevosti said.

The men’s team entered its race ranked No. 1 in the country with a seed time of 9:56.22. Senior Chris Carter started the race for the Knights and quickly went in front.

“We wanted Carter to get us a lead and he did,” Prevosti said. “He held off a national field.”

Senior Jesse Cleary-Krell and junior Tony George battled with a competitive field that stayed together throughout much of the race. George handed the baton off to senior Alex Brimstein, who led the race for multiple laps. Prevosti said that Brimstein pushed the pace during his leg because the race was not quick enough.

“It was a lousy deck and [Brimstein] made the most of it,” Prevosti said.

After fading slightly on the penultimate lap, Brimstein pushed hard in the last 100 meters and nearly propelled himself into second place. The Knights finished in 10:00.33, off from their previous best time, but only one second behind the race winners.

The distance medley relay runners transition into the outdoor season, which Prevosti is “very optimistic about.”