Track and field prepares to host SUNYAC meet

Geneseo track and field has been taking advantage of the recent warmer weather  and used it as a springboard into a weekend of success, with athletes competing at Princeton University and SUNY Cortland. 

Head coach Chris Popovici and assistant coach Ben Wach were both incredibly pleased with the results from the weekend. 

“A lot of good things came out of this past weekend,” Popovici said. 

One of the major highlights of the invitational at Princeton was senior distance runner Isaac Garcia-Cassani’s performance in the mile. Competing against professional and Division I athletes, Garcia-Cassani finished in third with a time of 4:01.35. 

He finished .8 of a second behind an athlete who competed in the equivalent event at the Olympics. This strong showing keeps Garcia-Cassani comfortably ranked number one in Division III in the 1500m.

Junior distance runner Elise Ramirez also had her best performance of the season at Princeton, running a 4:38.57 in the 1500m, which similarly placed her as third. She and her teammates, junior distance runners Allison Fernandez and Dana Cebulski, ranked as the top three Geneseo runners for that event in the conference. 

Continuing that line of success, senior distance runner Matt Jorgensen ran a 14:50.27 in the 5000m, according to Popovici. 

“This is the second week in a row he’s done that, so he’s really well set up for the rest of the season,” Popovici said of Jorgensen. 

At Cortland, Geneseo also put up a strong showing. The women’s heptathlon group performed exceedingly well. Junior multi-event athlete Shayna Held broke the program’s heptathlon record and in the process, set the record for the javelin. 

Behind Held, freshman multi-event athlete Emily Lavarnway set the second-highest mark in program history with her first collegiate heptathlon performance. She is ranked 13th in DIII right now, which as a freshman is, in Popovici’s words, “phenomenal.”

“It was great to see them come out of the gate like that,” Wach said of the freshmen athletes. 

Freshmen distance runners Eileen Reinhardt and Carissa DiTullio finished first and third in the 5000m with times of 18:23.79 and 18:31.87, respectively . 

“For their first 5Ks in college, they did really well and were pretty solid,” Popovici said. 

Because of the erratic conditions this season, the team competed in a mid-week meet at the Rochester Institute of Technology on Tuesday April 24 to shore up practice and experience for the upcoming SUNYAC Championship, which will be held at Geneseo on May 4 and May 5. 

The teams have spread out to try to maximize their facilities and avoid bad weather. Some athletes will compete at the Penn Relays on Thursday April 26 in Philadelphia and most will compete at St. John Fisher College on Saturday April 28 before SUNYACs. 

“The teams have done a great job this year of staying consistent and battling to stay healthy and compete whenever they can,” Popovici said. “Spring seasons in Upstate New York are difficult, so the team has done a great job getting qualified despite the weather.” 

The teams are in great positions for the SUNYAC tournament and beyond. The teams’ ultimate goal is to win both the men’s and women’s SUNYAC titles this spring because Geneseo has swept all the other SUNYAC titles this year. Winning the tournament would be the perfect way to end such a successful year.