Track defends conference titles, sends athletes to compete at NCAA Championships

The Geneseo men’s and women’s track and field teams absolutely dominated at the SUNYAC Championships on Friday Feb. 23 and Saturday Feb. 24. Not only did both teams win the meet, but they also put up higher point totals than expected.

The men scored a total of 169 points, besting SUNY Cortland by 19 points. The women wowed with an impressive score of 280 points, beating SUNY Brockport by over 100 points. After a regular season filled with success, these wins were the icing on the cake, and will only serve to further motivate these talented athletes.

Overall, the coaching staff was pleased with the results, and it’s not hard to see why. 

“We were excited about winning both,” head coach Chris Popovici said. “That was the goal.”

 The women’s team was predicted to win the meet from the outset, yet the individual performances were still stunning. Of particular excellence was junior pole vaulter Laura Piazza’s jump of 12’ 1.5,” which tied a meet record and broke a program record. 

“That was a huge jump for her,” Popovici said. “Right now, it gives her the chance to go to Nationals.”

Piazza’s performance set the tone for the rest of the meet. Junior multi-event athlete Shayna Held also set a program record in the 60-meter hurdles. Additionally, Geneseo went one-through-four in the pentathlon and the women’s distance squad swept top positions in multiple events. 

In the 400-meter dash, senior sprinter Lauren Bamford won the championship and broke her own school record, beating another athlete who is one of the best in the country.

The men’s team had to fight a little harder for their SUNYAC Title. Their win was all but counted out on Friday; however, they came back with a great second day. 

Sophomore multi-event athlete Jake Converse won the heptathlon with a personal best and also performed well in the high jump, giving him the highest point total of anyone in the field events. 

For his performances, Converse was awarded Field Athlete of the Meet.

“The men’s distance squad really showed up and scored a lot of points for us,” Popovici said. 

The team swept the top five positions in the 3,000-meter run and scored four of the top five in the 5,000-meter run. 

In the long jump, the men weren’t expecting to earn any points, but junior multi-event athlete Chris Walter and junior sprinter Amman Weaver took fourth and fifth place, respectively. 

“We were really proud of those two guys coming through for us,” Popovici said. 

After the long jump, Geneseo found itself suddenly back in the competition. 

“As a coaching staff we were all excited and proud to see this happen,” Popovici said. 

Many of Geneseo’s athletes found the SUNYAC atmosphere to be incredible. 

“At all the events you would just see a huge crowd of blue,” junior hurdler Austin Cutler, who placed fourth in the 60-meter hurdles, said. 

Even though Geneseo brought a lot of athletes, everyone was focused on cheering for their teammates.

“Since I’ve been here, we’ve built an involved team culture where we’re all invested in everyone else’s performances,” Cutler said.

There were about one hundred people cheering for every event and it started to seem like the team was competing at home. 

“We think that having that many people cheering was a big reason we did so well at the end,” Popovici said. 

For about half of the team, the SUNYACs marked the end of the indoor track and field season, and they will begin to prepare for the outdoor season. The other half will compete at Regionals on Friday March 2 and Saturday March 3 at Ithaca College, aiming to secure bids to Nationals, held in Birmingham, Alabama on March 9-10.