Track sprints into spring season after national success

The Geneseo men’s and women’s track and field teams capped off a tremendously successful indoor season with impressive performances at the NCAA Division III Championships held in Birmingham, Al. on March 9 and March 10. 

Geneseo brought 17 athletes to the championship, a big group for such a competitive meet. Eight Geneseo athletes left as All-Americans. 

“All around, it was a fun trip and a lot of people did very well, so we were really happy with that,” head coach Chris Popovici said. 

The track and field program has triumphed over the past few years, and this season was no exception. 

“I think everyone did better than they were expecting at Nationals—nobody croaked under pressure,” senior jumper Camille Wutz said.

The men’s team tied for ninth place out of all the teams at the NCAA Tournament. The distance medley relay comprised of junior distance runners Luke Holtzman, Zachery Hannahoe, Gillan Faulkner and senior distance runner Isaac Garcia-Cassani took first place in the nation.

The women’s team tied for 14th overall, with impressive performances by many individuals. 

“[Junior hurdler] Erin MacDougall had an incredible last three weeks of the season,” Popovici said. 

MacDougall went from being ranked 25th in the country in the 60-meter hurdles to finishing third at Nationals. She and junior multi-event athlete Shayna Held both crushed the previous 60-meter hurdles school record. The women’s 4x400 team also defeated the previous school record. 

In general, this indoor season has had an abundance of school records broken. The women’s team broke eight school records out of the 24 events, closely followed by the men besting six records. 

Looking toward the outdoor season, all of the athletes are preparing, though they are at different stages. With such a large team, not everyone is on the same training schedule. Some athletes haven’t competed in about a month, so they are ready to start hard training again, whereas others competed two weekends ago and are recovering. 

One of the biggest goals for the outdoor season is for both the men and women to win the SUNYAC Championship. If achieved, Geneseo will have swept all six SUNYAC titles in one year. The SUNYAC Championship will be held at Geneseo this year.

The last time a team swept the conference was done by Geneseo, back when Popovici and assistant coach Dan Moore were Geneseo students competing as Knights. 

“We’ve had it circled as a big goal, but the conference has improved since the last time we did it, so it’s very hard to do,” Popovici said. “We were close last season, but I think we’re a better team now.”

The first step toward accomplishing this will be on March 31 at the Geneseo Invitational at 10 a.m., as the men and the women look to start off the spring season. Students are encouraged by the track program to show up and can even participate in a 4x100. Last year there were eight men’s teams that competed in the invitational. This year the team is hoping for a similar—or even better—turnout.