Geneseo men’s and women’s track and field teams split squads and the college sent contingencies to SUNY Brockport and Cornell University on Saturday Jan. 27. Each went to compete and take advantage of the different resources and facilities each school had to offer. The teams were pleased with the results from both meets.
“From the conference level, a lot of people qualified for events so they can compete in the SUNYAC Championship later in the year,” head coach Chris Popovici said.
Athletes are able to qualify at any point throughout the season, so having so many athletes already hitting those marks shows early success for the season.
“We also had a school record,” Popovici said. “And a couple of national level performances that we’re pretty proud of.”
Junior vaulter Laura Piazza set the school record in the pole vault, with an impressive 11’5.75” result. This was a personal best for her. Her teammate and sophomore vaulter Sarah Bronk tied the old school record at the same meet.
“We had the two best pole vaulters we’ve ever had in the program,” Popovici said.
For Piazza, breaking this record was exciting, but also important since last year she missed the entire indoor track season due to a broken foot.
“Mentally, I really needed this because it reminded me why I am doing what I’m doing and why I love pole vaulting,” Piazza said.
This high level of success was also seen on the men’s team. Junior distance runner Isaac Garcia-Cassani ran a 4:12 mile, which is fifth in Division III and will qualify him for Nationals. This was his season debut, so he was able to start the track season on a high note. The team boasts six of the top eight milers in the conference currently.
“We also had a number of program top 10 performances,” Popovici said. This program has been around for 40 years, so it is a big personal accomplishment for athletes to find themselves on that list. The current track and field teams are both very strong competitively and the program is not lacking in talent.
There were many examples of athletes rising up on the program rankings. Junior thrower Rio Lee jumped into the top ten results in program history for the weight throw. Junior multi-event athlete Shayna Held ran the fourth fastest 60-meter dash and junior hurdler Hannah Madden had the fifth farthest triple jump in school history. This meet marked the first time Madden had competed in this event in over a year, so her season began quite successfully.
“It was pretty fun to see [Madden] come out so well,” Popovici said. “And she had a personal best.”
Even with this early success, the athletes are all looking to improve and keep working toward their larger goals.
“My last meet was just one step in the direction of where I want to go, because I really want to make Nationals this year,” Piazza said.
Next weekend, both teams are heading to Ithaca College for an invitational on Saturday Feb. 3. Last year, there were over 30 schools competing at this invitational.
“We’ll probably have almost 120 athletes there, which will be pretty fun for us,” Popovici said.
“We have a large team, but we do a good job enjoying ourselves and having fun and hanging out at meets is one way to do that,” Piazza said.
For highly competitive meets like this one, the focus is on individual performances rather than how many points the team scores. The goal is to try and get every individual as prepared as possible for those championship meets by hitting their qualifying marks to compete later in the season.u