Track prepares to demonstrate skill at Valentine’s Invitational

 and field teams competed at the Ithaca Winter Invitational at Ithaca College on Saturday Feb. 3. On the same date, a small number of athletes went to Tufts University in Massachusetts to compete in the Tufts Early Season Invitational. 

The Tufts Invitational was a smaller, more exclusive event and Geneseo sent a few of their long-distance runners who were invited to compete, according to head coach Chris Popovici. 

Three men and two women made the trip. For the men, senior distance runner Alfredo Mazzuca ran a 14:45.03 in the 5,000-meter race. He came in fourth overall and his time was the eighth fastest time in the program’s history. For the women, junior distance runner Elise Ramirez won the 5,000-meter race with a time of 17:18.62, her second best time ever. 

At the Ithaca Invitational, Geneseo also had a very impressive showing. 

“The weekend went really well,” Popovici said. “We had a few people qualify for nationals, a couple of school records and we had athletes compete in the pentathlon or heptathlon events.”

In the pentathlon, athletes compete in five events in one day, with only a half hour break between them. The heptathlon consists of seven events over two days. Since both contests are both so physically exhausting, the athletes do not compete in these events at every meet, instead working on and competing in specific events. 

The women, in particular, have dominated the pentathlon so far this season. Currently, Geneseo has five of the top six pentathlon athletes in the conference and three of the top 20 in the country. Junior multi-event athlete Shayna Held scored 3,301 points in her pentathlon, which beats her previous school record

Senior jumper Camille Wutz also had a successful meet. She won the long jump event and placed fourth in the 60-meter dash. Aside from her own performances, she believes that the team is coming along really well. 

“Everyone is doing great and working toward a peak and we’re excited for SUNYACs,” Wutz said. 

As a senior, she hopes the teams will be able to take all four SUNYAC track and field titles, after winning the cross-country titles earlier this year. 

With SUNYACs fast approaching—on Feb. 23 and 24 at SUNY Brockport—the level of training and practice has slightly dropped. Now coaches and athletes are focusing more on fine tuning performances and helping each individual do what they need to meet their qualifying times. 

“It’s an individual sport,” Popovici said. “Because one day at the end of the season is where everything truly matters.” 

Without team standings to rely on, the athletes must focus on improving throughout the season in order to perform well in SUNYACs and hopefully nationals. 

“Now we’re in our pulling back and recovering phase, where we want to get as fresh as we can,” Popovici said. 

Even though the teams may not be practicing as hard over the next three weeks, everyone is still both mentally and physically focusing on SUNYACs. 

“We’re taking care of the fine details and working to get everyone healthy and we should be set up well,” Wutz said.  

While the SUNYACs are a great place for individuals to perform well, it also creates an exciting team atmosphere. 

“It’s a big team thing where everyone gets together and cheers for everyone,” Wutz said. “It’s a whole rowdy ordeal.” 

Geneseo hopes to send around 100 athletes to the SUNYACs later this month; however, before that both the men’s and women’s teams will be competing in the Boston University Valentine International on Friday Feb. 9 and Saturday Feb. 10.