The Geneseo track and field team split squads this past weekend and sent contingents to Pennsylvania for one invitational at Bucknell University and another at Westminster University. Both brought success for the athletes, who were finally able to benefit from good weather and healthy competition.
This spring has certainly been unique in its consistent cold weather, and while everyone on-campus has been griping about it, the track and field athletes arguably suffer the most.
“For us our success depends on pure performance, and so when your body is freezing cold it’s really hard to do that,” head coach Chris Popovici said.
Last weekend on April 6, the teams chose not to compete at an outdoor invitational because of the weather, but it did not hinder any progress. In fact, it may have done the opposite. Rather than compete in an invitational, the athletes did hard workouts and trained throughout the week.
Luckily, at both of the invitational events this past weekend, the temperature was above 70 degrees so the team was able to use that to their advantage. The weather particularly affects the field athletes and the sprinters.
“We’ve had struggles with perfecting our techniques because we don’t have our mats outside yet,” Popovici said.
The coaching staff has been finding creative ways to work around the weather conditions. The cold still has not been a major impediment for the team, as evidenced by the performances at Bucknell and Westminister.
Both invitationals included multi-division schools, pitting Division I programs against Division III. This gave Geneseo athletes a dose of healthy, yet difficult, competition. At Bucknell, more than 80 schools were represented, with some events having 50 runners in each heat.
Senior distance runner Isaac Garcia-Cassani finished fourth in the 1500-meter at Bucknell, besting many DI runners. His time of 3:45.48 is the top result in the division so far this spring. He topped off this performance by being named SUNYAC Player of the Week.
Senior distance runner Alfredo Mazzuca’s efforts were another highlight—he ran the 10,000-meter in 30:20.59, which puts him in the DIII top 10 athletes for the event.
At the Westminster Invitational, freshman sprinter Lukas D’Alfonso won the 400-meter dash with an impressive time of 48.09, also putting him in the DIII top 10. With this performance, he beat the school record by almost a full second.
For the women, senior distance runner Kristen Homeyer and junior distance runner Elise Ramirez both competed well at Bucknell, finishing in the 5,000-meter with respective times of 16:58.83 and 17:06.00.
The women’s 4x100-meter relay team raced for the first time this year, and right out of the gate, they rank fifth in the country.
“For their first time out it was a great performance on their end,” Popovici said. “In addition to all that, everyone did their job and lots of people qualified for the conference meet, so now we’re just gearing up for the next one.”
These huge invitationals are exciting and the hype definitely has an impact on the Geneseo athletes.
“Our athletes seem to perform better at those massive meets, whether it’s psychosomatic or just the environment of it all,” Popovici said.
Those meets draw out the best in many of the athletes, and it’s thrilling when the competition is that fierce. Not every meet allows for this, but the ones that do are often memorable. Plus, it becomes evident that Geneseo athletes can hold their own against the larger division’s well-known programs.
Next weekend, both the men’s and women’s teams will head to SUNY Cortland to compete on Saturday April 21 and Sunday April 22.