Track and field utilize preseason, triumphant at first invitational

After a restful break, the Geneseo men’s and women’s track and field teams returned early to get back on track after vacation. 

Read More

Track strives for another SUNYAC title

The Geneseo men’s and women’s track and field teams divided their athletes on Friday April 14 and Saturday April 15 to compete at the Bucknell Bison Classic in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania and the Brockport Invitational. 

Geneseo once again put up top-notch performances, grabbing a total of six 1st place finishes, three school records, two SUNYAC Program records and a large grouping of national qualifying times and results as they stand.

 The men’s squad found good marks at the Brockport Invitational, with six top-five finishes and junior runner Kyle Chesterman taking first place in the men’s 3000-meter steeplechase with a time of 10:05.68. 

At the Bucknell Bison Classic, a 4x800 relay squad of senior runner Nate Lo Parco, sophomore runner Gillan Faulkner, sophomore runner Ethan Bellante and junior runner Isaac Garcia-Cassani took 2nd place with a school record time of 7:40.43. Garcia-Cassani continued to put up strong numbers and took first place in the men’s 1500-meter with a time of 3:44.72—a SUNYAC program record and the best time to be put up this year in Division III.

Garcia-Cassani’s time garnered him an invite for the Olympic development mile at the Penn Relays on Thursday April 27. 

“It is a tremendous achievement to participate considering the event is invitation only and boasts a field of professional runners and some of the best athletes in Division I,” head coach Christopher Popovici said.

The women’s squad also found success at Bucknell, with a 4x800 relay team of senior runner Marissa Cossaro, sophomore runner Allison Fernandez, sophomore runner Elise Ramirez and senior runner Mackenzie Ross grabbing 1st place and a school record with a time of 9:09.56. 

The highlight for the women’s team, however, was a dominating performance at the Brockport Invitational, where the Knights took 10 top-five finishes. This included three 1st place results. Junior jumper and sprinter Camille Wutz took the 100-meter with a 12.24-second finish, senior jumper/sprinter Alexa Wandy ran a 57.84 in the 400-meter for first place and a school record and Wutz took another 1st place mark with a 6.13-meter in the long jump—a SUNYAC program record and the 5th all-time jump in Division III history.

“Right now, both the top marks in the women’s two horizontal jumps are held by us,” Popovici said. “Wutz holds the long jump after this weekend and Wandy continues to impress with the triple jump. With the pair joined by Garcia-Cassani in the 1500-meter, it’s a great time for the program and it feels pretty good to have three of the national leaders in DIII for their events with us. We’re pretty close in putting a few more athletes up there with them with some of the individual breakthroughs we’ve been having in practices.”

With the regular season halfway finished, the amount of meets to make national qualifications are dwindling. For many teams its crunch time, but the Knights have shown no signs of pressure considering a healthy number of athletes have already guaranteed their attendance, including Garcia-Cassani, Wutz, Wandy and Cossaro. 

“It takes a lot of stress off the athletes who’ve reached that mark,” Popovici said. “It allows them to zero in and focus for the meet that’s five to six weeks away. From the coaches prospective, it allows us to not worry each week about getting our athletes to hit these marks, and lets us focus on the little things that can help to improve their mark that we otherwise wouldn’t focus on.”

Track collects titles at Nazareth College

Sophomore distance runner Lorenzo Mazzuca leaps over the steeple chase as he looks for a first place finish. The Knights hope to earn more titles and break more records at their upcoming invitational at Bucknell University. (Ash Dean/Photo Editor)

Sophomore distance runner Lorenzo Mazzuca leaps over the steeple chase as he looks for a first place finish. The Knights hope to earn more titles and break more records at their upcoming invitational at Bucknell University. (Ash Dean/Photo Editor)

The Geneseo men’s and women’s track and field teams produced another successful weekend at the Nazareth ROC City Classic on Sunday April 9. Both squads took home a combined five first place finishes, while simultaneously clinching several program records.

“The team is feeling good,” head coach Christopher Popovici said. “We had a lot of season bests, lifetime bests and even program bests across many events. It gives the team a nice moral boast knowing that we’re heading in the right direction.”

The men’s team captured first place in the 5,000-meter steeple chase thanks to the effort of freshman distance runner Jack Tate, who had a time of 15:38.30. Freshman pole-vaulter Terry Taylor III also put up a tremendous performance, tying the program record in the pole vault with a 4.56-meter mark, despite his fourth place finish.

The women’s squad finished with four first place finishes, which included senior runner Mackenzie Ross in the 800-meter run, senior runner Ashley Peppriell in the 5,000-meter run, senior jumper and sprinter Alexa Wandy in the long jump and the 4x400-meter sprint relay team of Wandy, Ross, junior jumper Camille Wutz, and junior sprinter Lauren Bamford.

In addition, Wandy set a SUNYAC and program record with a 5.99-meter mark in the long jump. 

Also of note were sophomore pole-vaulter Laura Piazza, who set a program record in the pole vault with a 3.30-meter mark, as well as Wandy and Wutz; Wandy and Wutz set the second and third fastest 100-meter sprint times with a 12.39-second finish and a 12.40-second finish, respectively.

Despite the increasing success of the season, the entire team’s eyes are locked on the weekend ahead, where they will participate on Friday April 14 and Saturday April 15 in the Bucknell Bison Classic.

“This upcoming weekend brings us to Bucknell University,” Popovici said. “It is a larger and longer meet by design because certain events are better run in cooler conditions at night and some are better in the middle of the day when it’s nice and hot out. We’ve gone to this meet for over a decade now and Friday night traditionally yields many of our distance performances that make nationals for the season.”

While the Knights look to place as many athletes into nationals as possible, the meet also is a terrific opportunity for younger classmen to leave an impression.

“I’m excited for Bucknell,” sophomore hurdler Austin Cutler said. “The closest thing I’ve participated in for indoor was Boston and this is three times the size of that. It’s good to change who you compete against, especially those who are better than you because it often is how you get better results. It’s a great opportunity to be able to compete against other athletes of this scale because it has a tendency to make me want to contribute even more to our team.”

Many colleges and universities will attend the Bucknell meet—and many of them will be at the Division I and Division II level. 

“Because the sport is more individual based, you can have these kinds of matchups between divisions,” Popovici said. “It motivates a strong DIII team like ours to perform better, and because of this I believe we’re able to put more athletes in nationals every year than some of the other teams.”

Geneseo hosts track & field invitational

Freshman multi-event athlete Alexa LaPierre represents the Geneseo Knights in the 100-meter hurdles at the Geneseo invitational. The home meet put Geneseo at an advantage as they had friends and family on campus to cheer them on. (Ash Dean/Photo Editor)

Geneseo put on an impressive performance on Sunday April 2 for their first home meet of the season for both the men’s and women’s outdoor track and field teams. 

“As a whole, we did very well at the meet,” head coach Chris Popovici said. “Eighteen colleges were in attendance and we thought it was a great way to start the season off against that large of a competitive field. To win an early invitational is not always the goal, but when athletes succeed in taking first, it’s a good indication to us that we’re heading in the right direction.” 

While the meet did not feature some of the upperclassmen from both squads due to the short gap in between indoor nationals and the beginning of the outdoor season, the day was a chance for the underclassmen to shine.

For the men, sophomore runner Lorenzo Mazzuca took first place in the 3000-meter steeplechase with a time of 9:47.71. Sophomore hurdler Austin Cutler also grabbed himself a 1st place personal best of 15.78 seconds in the men’s 110-meter hurdles, while right behind him in 3rd was freshman hurdler Jacob Converse with a time of 15.96 seconds. 

“That was a great race for both of our underclassmen hurdlers,” Popovici said. “For Converse, it was his first college hurdle race at that height against strong competition, and we thought it was a great way for him to debut at this level. For Cutler, he’s our school record holder from indoor. He handled eight hurdles well and almost fell on the ninth, but was still able to salvage a personal best, which is encouraging to see this early in the season because to us it means that he’s clicking on all cylinders.”

The women’s squad found even more success at the home meet, and took 1st in a total of eight separate events: the 4x100-meter relay, the 100-meter dash, 3000-meter steeplechase, the 100-meter hurdles, the 1500-meter run, the long jump, the 4x400-meter relay and the triple jump. 

Junior jumper Camille Wutz led the Knights at the meet with three 1st place finishes including a 5.6l-meter long jump, a 12.67 second 100-meter dash and as a member of the 4x100-meter relay team, alongside senior jumper Alexa Wandy, sophomore hurdler Erin MacDougall and freshman jumper Lauryn Krupa to finish with a 49.28.

Also of note is the 12.72-meter triple jump poster by Wandy that has already qualified her for nationals given it stands currently at number one in the nation, according to Popovici. The reigning NCAA Indoor Track & Field triple jump national champion will look to continue her dominance in the meet to come.

Despite the absence of several upperclassmen, Popovici remarked that it was a promising sign for the future of the program with a tremendous degree of young talent.

“When we look at those seniors that are doing so well and look at their path and progression, we have a lot of underclassmen that are already meeting and ahead of those types of marks,” Popovici said. “You never know who will suddenly jump to the next level.”

Track anticipates home invitational

It was a monumental indoor season for both the Geneseo men’s and women’s track and field squads. A trip to nationals for both teams saw three individual national championships and two top 10 finishes overall at the national level.

“We did not expect to walk out with the number of accolades that we did,” head coach Chris Popovici said. “Statistically, it’s easy to argue that it was one of the most successful seasons in our program’s history. We’ve never had two national champions come out of the same season, but [this winter] we had three, which is more than impressive.” 

The men’s indoor track and field team tied for 10th overall nationally in a field of 100 teams for the 2016-17 indoor season with another SUNYAC championship under their belt. Junior distance runner Isaac Garcia-Cassani continues to achieve top honors as he claimed his first national championship in the men’s mile run with a time of 4:07.77. Named the Outstanding Male Track Athlete of the Meet, Garcia-Cassani also scooped up the SUNYAC Indoor Track & Field Men’s Track Athlete of the Year with his 1st place performance in the mile. 

Additionally, Garcia-Cassani also anchored a 2nd place distance medley relay team of sophomore runners Luke Holtzman, Zachary Hannahoe and Gillan Faulkner.

The women’s indoor track and field team also claimed a top 10 finish, placing No. 8 nationally after earning another SUNYAC championship. Senior jumper Alexa Wandy won a pair of national championships in the triple jump and long jump. Posting a meet record final jump of 41 feet, 5 3/4 inches and a career-best 19 feet, 6 1/4 inches mark in the long jump, besting the runner up by a mere inch. 

Wandy was honored as the Outstanding Field Athlete of the Meet as well as the SUNYAC Indoor Track & Field Women’s Field Athlete of the Year. 

In addition, senior distance Marissa Cossaro was also honored for an 8th place finish in the 3,000-meter with the SUNYAC Women’s Track Athlete of the Year recognition. 

Popovici was also honored with his first SUNYAC Coach of the Year award after leading the Knights to two conference championships and top 10 national finishes.

On the transition from the indoor season to outdoor, Popovici said that the teams’ messages do not change their goals.  

“We’ve done all these things right so far—we’ve won conference championships in both men’s and women’s cross country and indoor track, and we’re looking to come out on top for outdoor as well,” Popovici said. “I think some of [this year’s] meets we’re excited for is when we get to face Division I competition. Some of the top programs in the northeast put on strong meets and we will do the best we can.”

The Knights hit the track for the first time this outdoor season on home turf Saturday April 1. 

“It’s nice for the athletes,” Popovici said. “They don’t need to worry about traveling and get to bring and compete in front of their friends and peers who come out and support them. We enjoy it because we don’t always get to show off in front of our home crowd and have them cheer us on.” 

The Geneseo early season invite will have more than 12 teams attending—making it a large meet.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to host that and put on a big invitational spectacle,” Popovici said.

Track and field earn SUNYAC titles

Senior Alfredo Mazzuco and junior Isaac Garcia-Casaani race around to the final leg of their event during the SUNYAC meet at SUNY Brockport. Both the men’s and women’s teams took first place in the SUNYAC meet. (Troy Hallahan/Sales Director)

Both the men’s and women’s track and field teams won the SUNYAC Indoor Championships held at Brockport on Friday Feb. 24 and Saturday Feb. 25. The Knights “were nothing short of stellar,” according to assistant coach Ben Wach. 

To be eligible and to compete in an event at SUNYACs, an athlete must hit certain entrance standards and be among the top 16 people who have declared to participate in the event. This qualifying process further shows how well the Geneseo athletes had to perform to come out on top. 

“The women were seeded to win by a lot, and they won by a lot,” Wach said. 

Breaking the record for most points scored at the meet—in its current format, which has been around for approximately a decade—the women’s team won big in a variety of events. This included distance running, the 60-meter dash and the long jump and triple jump—both of which reached in-meet records. 

The men’s team was seeded to lose by approximately 10 points, according to the entries, but they ended up winning by that much. The Knights edged out SUNY Cortland by scoring 177 points to Cortland’s 170, both of which were scoring records. 

“It took absolutely unbelievable performances to do it,” Wach said. “We knew going into the meet that we would have to be on our A+ game in every single event and we were.”

For the men, there was almost immediate momentum after the first scored event: the 5K. The team scored 34 points out of a maximum of 39. 

While both teams were overall successful, there were certain athletes that stood out in their performances.

“On the men’s side, we had some pretty big stand out performances,” Wach said. “People who weren’t seeded to score came up huge.”  

One example would be sophomore sprinter Amman Weaver, who was a No. 9 seed coming in but took a 10th off his time. He not only qualified in first place, but also ended up coming in second in the final. 

“The moment he crossed the line, the entire team took it up another level. It was so exciting,” Wach said. 

Another key contributor to the championship was senior sprinter Connor Christian, who competed in five races during the two days, during which he bumped a couple potential scorers out of finals. 

On the women’s side, there were multiple event winners. Multiple freshmen had quite successful first SUNYAC meets. Junior jumper Camille Wutz broke the meet record in the long jump and won the 60-meter dash. Senior jumper Alexa Wandy broke the meet record in the triple jump. 

The women’s team had not finished first for the past 10 years, always coming in second or third, so this was an important championship for them. The men’s team has placed sporadically in the past decade—having both the men’s and women’s teams winning first place is certainly a highlight for the track and field program here at Geneseo. 

NCAA Division III Indoor Championships will be held starting Friday March 10 in Naperville, Illinois, where the Knights are hoping to have a strong showing.

Track & field sets records at Valentine Invitational

It was a historic and record-setting weekend for the Geneseo men’s and women’s track and field teams at the Valentine Invitational hosted by Boston University. The Knights competed in a large competitive field filled with a wide variety of top athletes from Division III, II and I. 

There were many Knights that stood out at the meet in Boston, including junior distance runner Isaac Garcia-Cassani, who finished the mile run with a time of 4:05.39.  It is the second fastest time in the mile in Division III this season. 

Among the entire field, which consisted of 270 athletes—ranging from pro to Division II—he finished 15th. On top of that, Garica-Cassani’s time is now the fastest mile ever run by a Geneseo male athlete by four seconds. 

Senior sprinter Connor Christian finished the 400-meter with a personal best of 49.37, which is also good for a program record—he finished 41st overall. 

Other records were being set on the women’s side as well. Senior jumper Alexa Wandy had a personal best while setting the school record in the triple jump with a jump of 40 feet and 2 1/4 inches, which is the second best triple jump this season in Division III. Wandy’s jump landed her a 5th place finish.

Wandy was also a part of the women’s 4x400-meter relay team consisting of junior jumper Camille Wutz, junior sprinter Lauren Bamford and senior mid-distance runner Mackenzie Ross—also breaking a program record with a time of 3:55.10. 

On top of the relay record, Wutz and Bamford made their own imprint within the Geneseo track program’s record books. 

Wutz previously held the program record for the 60-meter, but broke her own record, finishing with a time of 7.93, which was good for 21st overall. In the 400-meter run, Bamford finished with a time of 58.41, which meant yet another Geneseo program record.  

Overall, there were six program records set over the weekend in Boston making for a successful week.  

The track team now sets their sights on the Brockport Invitational starting on Feb. 24. 

“A big part of this upcoming weekend at Brockport is giving those who need one more opportunity to qualify the best chance to do that,” head coach Chris Popovici said. “Since we’re perusing a team title, the more people we get to the SUNYAC’s, the better opportunities there are to score points.” 

Coming into the final stretch of the winter season, Popovici said he is satisfied to know that the atmosphere around the athletes is beneficial. The team often looks to their upperclassmen to set an example and to be leaders, especially late in the season.  

“We’ve seen this sort of family-like atmosphere develop,” Popovici said, “Everyone who’s an upperclassman and passed through the program sort of takes on the idea of leaving it better than they found it.”

Track invitationals act as prequel for SUNYACs

The Geneseo men and women’s indoor track and field teams had another busy week.  Both the men and women sent athletes to the Rochester Institute of Technology Tiger Invitational in Rochester and the Tufts Cupid Challenge in Boston, as well as the Ithaca Bomber Invitational.   

It was a long weekend for both sides of the team, but according to head coach Chris Popovici, it was extremely beneficial.  

“We were really happy to get all of those opportunities,” he said. “Some of the meets had better competition for certain event groups than others and different types of facilities.” 

The majority of both teams competed in the RIT Invitational. At Ithaca, the team brought their multi athletes who compete in the heptathlon and the pentathlon, which combine both field and track events. The team also brought a few of their long jumpers to Ithaca as well.  At the Tufts Challenge, the team brought their top long distance runners. 

The track team’s performance was highlighted by sophomore distance-runner Elise Ramirez, who ran the 5,000-meter with a time of 17:16.48, which was enough to name her Female Athlete of the Week at Geneseo. The run also put her at the sixth fastest time in the country this year, as well as the third fastest time in program history. 

Behind Ramirez were senior runners Marissa Cossaro, who finished fourth with a time of 17:25.32, and Sara Rosenzweig, who finished sixth with a time of 17:47.44.  

Other notable performances include senior jumper Alexa Wandy and junior jumper Camille Wutz, who finished first and second in the long jump at the Ithaca Invitational, respectively. Wandy came in first with a score of 18 feet 6 inches and Wutz—who came in second—jumped 18 feet and 2.5 inches. Both women have competed at nationals before and are looking for the opportunity to compete on the same stage again.  

In the same meet, sophomore multi-event athlete Shayna Held came in first place in the women’s pentathlon with a score of 3,034 points, which is a personal best. Held also had personal bests in the long jump and the 800-meter during the pentathlon and tied her personal best in the high jump.

On the men’s side, junior distance-runner Isaac Garcia-Cassani finished first in the mile with a time of 4:10:04. Garcia-Cassani won the race by nearly eight seconds and finished with the third fastest time in Division III this year. 

Looking forward, the men and women are both preparing for the upcoming SUNYAC Championship and then the NCAA Division III Championship.  

“The number one thing is getting everyone fresh physically and excited and focused mentally,” Popovici said.  “That’s a goal of ours as a program—that we go to that meet [SUNYAC Championship] expecting to have our best performances of the year individually and if we do that … we put ourselves in a winning position.”

Indoor track season looks promising

For 135 athletes, months of hard work will soon pay off. Both men’s and women’s indoor track and field athletes have been training since mid-October and, finally, on Friday Dec. 9, they will have their first meet at Houghton College. As the rest of Geneseo students are slowly trying to survive until the end of the semester, bogged down by finals, the winter track teams are gearing up for the beginning of their season. The athletes will go home for a shorter winter break before coming back to school early in order to continue developing skills and improving for track.

They will have about a three-week layoff period, which will allow them to come back with more energy after having some time to relax at home. After the invitational at Houghton, the teams’ next meet will not be until mid-January at Utica College, which is before the rest of the campus returns to start the spring semester.

“The expectations are basically the same,” head coach Christopher Popovici ‘06 said, a Geneseo alumnus who is starting his second year as head coach of the track and field program. “We want each athlete to develop and improve individually. We want to win, and we have a really good shot at doing that.”

For the first few months of practice, athletes have primarily been working on weight training and conditioning. Now that the meets are coming up quickly, though, they will shift into more specific work.

There are multiple different events for men’s and women’s winter track, such as sprinting, hurtling, throwing, distance running and pole-vaulting. Even within those specified areas, there are some athletes who compete in multiple events.

This makes “lots of gears move at one time” and often marks a hectic season. The coaching staff must be able to tackle overseeing all of the athletes, meeting with them to offer advice and guidance.

It might take a lot for the winter track teams to work smoothly, but they definitely do. Popovici praises his athletes, calling them “very experienced” and “some of the best in the country.”

Notably, Popovici mentioned senior jumper Alexa Wandy, who will be one of the members poised to lead the team this season. Whether it be at a national level or at a conference level, Popovici and the coaching staff expect hard work and improvement from every athlete. These high standards are aided by a demanding practice schedule, where the teams work two and a half hours a day for six days a week.

Another important aspect that is incorporated into the transition to the winter track season is helping the freshman athletes assimilate. They’ve had to acclimate both to the specific Geneseo programs as well as the collegiate track program as a whole.

No one is worried, though; with such large teams for men and women, as well as a supportive coaching staff, the freshmen will look like naturals in no time.

While many people detest winter and the seemingly never-ending cold and snow, the men’s and women’s track teams are gearing up for winter all year. They are excited for the season and are looking to work hard and stay healthy, Popovici said.

Knight of the Week: Matt Jorgensen

Matt Jorgensen is hiking his way to accomplishment, regardless of the challenges he has faced along the way. Besides being a senior biology major here at Geneseo—which is an accomplishment in and of itself—he excels at cross country and track. Despite these achievements, Jorgensen has battled both injury and the personal toll of overwhelming thoughts regarding his future after graduation. Jorgenson, however, defies the odds, persisting and achieving exemplary grades along with his fortitude on the field.

Jorgensen decided he wanted to become a Geneseo Knight after his first visit here, where he fell in love with the track program and the overall atmosphere surrounding the sport. “It just felt like a really good fit,” he said.

The sports at Geneseo that caught his attention were cross country and track. This was not his first encounter with this passion: like many athletes, Jorgensen has a long background in his sport.

Picture a young Jorgensen, bright eyed and bushy-tailed—not yet beaten down with midterms and finals—ready to start seventh grade. As with most middle school aged boys, Jorgensen was just looking to find himself. He was able to achieve this through his love of track and cross country after he saw his older sister get into the sport. Prior to his love of running, Jorgensen played hockey.

Although Jorgensen does not yet hold any varsity records here at Geneseo, he has his own personal records that he strives to beat everyday. His best 5K time is 15:19.34. His long-term goals, however, are to help his team make nationals and win. Beyond that, he hopes to achieve his dream and go All-American.

His favorite memory with the team is when the people who don’t make nationals get together and form the coveted T-Team, which stands for transition team. This band of athletes who didn’t make the top seven spots come together and go crazy supporting their teammates through the T-Team. And yes, they are somehow louder than your mom yelling on the sidelines.

When Jorgensen isn’t running, though, he can be found studying in the hopes of getting into physician’s assistant school or spending time outdoors. He has been camping and hiking for years and plans to continue that in his future by participating regularly in outdoor activities with both his friends and family.

Jorgensen would also like to eventually run a marathon—just for the sake of running. His wish goes back to a part of his overall goal: to run for as long as he can for as long as he is able to. Jorgensen is able to find a sheer joy in running, one that is unparalleled by most.

Although Jorgensen suffered a career-threatening injury, he has managed to still accomplish a lot. In his freshman season, Jorgensen had a series of stress fractures. As a result, he wasn’t able to run until his junior season. He was bound to light training to keep his fitness up. His teammates gave him the support he needed to get through this bump on the road, and he will never forget it.

Although the temptation to quit was there, Jorgensen persevered. “[I] knew I had more in me,” he said. “I just knew I wasn’t done.”

Indoor track looks to follow SUNYAC Championship

The Geneseo women’s track and field team is getting ready to step back into action as they wrap up their preseason and are about to start their winter season.  After placing second for the SUNYAC Indoor Championship title last winter season—and breaking plenty of records while doing so—the team looks to be even more successful this year.

Read More

Freshman runner makes early impact

Many students come to college hoping to achieve something that they can be proud of for years to come. Men’s cross country and track and field freshman distance runner Isaac Garcia-Cassani has embraced this mentality, racking up an impressive number of athletic accolades in his short time at Geneseo.

Read More

Indoor track finishes prep for SUNYAC meet

The Geneseo men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams look to make one final push with the SUNYAC Tournament on Friday Feb. 27 and Saturday Feb. 28 so that they can be in a good place for nationals. With nationals just a few weeks away, most athletes want to use this weekend as a time to prepare and to give it their all.

Read More

Track successful at national Valentine Invitational

At the Valentine Invitational, the Geneseo men’s and women’s track and field teams both put up a good showing, with athletes from both teams breaking school records and putting up personal best times on Friday Feb. 13 and Saturday Feb. 14. With over 3,000 athletes at the meet, the Knights did a great job of standing out against the crowd and making sure that they competed to the best of their abilities at Boston University.

Read More

Indoor track gets surprise win at Brockport matches

The Knights were not expecting to send athletes to compete at the Brockport Mid-Season Classic on Saturday Feb. 7, but they were pleasantly surprised. Made up of senior David Layman, junior Michael Segelin and sophomores Connor Christian and Austin Donroe, the Geneseo men’s 4x200 meter relay team broke the school record with a time of 1:31.12––good enough for second place in the event.

Read More

Knights run with top athletes

The Geneseo men’s and women’s indoor track teams competed at the Ithaca Bomber Invitational & Multi held at Ithaca College on Sunday Feb. 1. The Knights competed against Division I talent and held their own with several athletes posting personal records. Junior heptathlete Aidan Fullerton now looks to be in a good position going forward for nationals and junior sprinter Michael Segelin posted a personal best time in the 200-meter dash. For athletes like Fullerton, getting good marks and times this early in the season is a blessing––it allows for more breathing room heading into the meat of the season. Fullerton now has time to sort out his competition and to improve on his already good marks. His point total is good enough for 12th in the nation and because a good portion of athletes have yet to run, that sets him up for bigger point totals as the season progresses.

“He almost certainly has a good chance of getting into nationals now,” head coach Chris Popovici said.

Another athlete whose performance this past weekend put her in the national spotlight is sophomore Joanna Heath. “[Heath] has reached a point in the season where she’s realized that she’s faster and stronger than her competition, and she’s just trying to figure out what that means for her,” Popovici said. If the season were to end today, Heath would make nationals in the high jump and she hasn’t hit her ceiling.

“She’s not even close to her best jump yet,” Popovici said. Going forward, Heath can only improve upon her already impressive marks in both the high jump and the long jump.

Both Fullerton and Heath have put up great numbers from the beginning of the season. Their teammates have been consistently putting up numbers that place them in the national conversation for their respective events as well. Segelin is a top national runner for the 200-meter dash and there are a number of distance runners who also ran on the Geneseo cross-country teams that also have a good chance of getting into nationals, including sophomore Alfredo Mazzuca, freshman Isaac Garcia-Cassani, senior Keira Wood and senior Alyssa Knott.

With so much talent on both the men’s and the women’s teams, the Knights showed that they can compete at the highest level. Their individual athletes were able to hold their own against many D1 athletes, a good sign for the future of the team—both from a team perspective and an individual one.

If the Knights can put up a good show against that kind of competition, athletes at the Division III National Championships should prove no match for the Knights.

Indoor track teams look to build on early success

The season is already underway for the men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams, and many of the athletes look to be well on their way to a great season. The Knights have stellar athletes on both teams and although it is more of an individual sport than others, the teams as a whole look to be going forward well prepared for any tests that they may face throughout the season.

Read More

Saying goodbye to coach Mike Woods

After a 23-year coaching career at Geneseo, cross country head coach and track and field assistant coach Mike Woods will retire at the end of the spring 2015 track season. During Woods’ nearly quarter century-long tenure, the Knights have earned dozens of SUNYAC Championships and national honors, including the school’s first and only team National Championship with the 2005 women’s cross country team. Woods has also received 28 SUNYAC Coach of the Year distinctions.

Woods’ role in cross country at Geneseo began long before he assumed the head coaching position in 1992. He joined the school’s first intercollegiate cross country program when he was a freshman in 1964. After an athletic career that spanned both high school and college, Woods noted, “It was just a natural offshoot for me to want to coach.”

Following graduation, he taught English at York Central School for 33 years where he established and coached its first cross country team. Woods retired from coaching high school cross country after 21 years in order to make more time for his children, but was almost immediately encouraged to apply for the open head coach position at his alma mater. At first, Woods said no to the job, but his children encouraged him to pursue his passion for coaching at the collegiate level.

In his first year, Woods faced the task of changing the team’s culture, encouraging the athletes to strive for excellence. He soon began taking “the best athletes to the best meets … all the meets where we’d get our butts kicked.” Woods has consistently motivated the Knights to face Division I teams at highly competitive meets like the Penn Relays, where they compete every year.

“There’s a certain level of excellence at Geneseo that’s expected in the classroom and I expect that same level from the athletes,” Woods said. “There’s a definite connection between the classroom and competing here.”

Both of his closest colleagues—track and field head coach Chris Popovici ’06 and assistant cross country and track and field coach Dan Moore ’06—said that the dedication to athletics Woods inspired in them while they ran for the Knights motivated them to work as coaches post-graduation. This dedication is defined by Woods’ emphasis on the word “believe” as a key concept of the team.

“He instilled that in us as athletes and then as coaches to pass the message along to the current athletes—to get them to believe in themselves, to believe in the training, believe in the program,” Moore said.

Popovici added that Woods’ legacy will remain fundamental for the team after his retirement.

“It’s a program that he’s built and it’s still building,” he said. “It’s still strong. It’s not going to crumble; he’s built such a culture and an infrastructure here amongst the current athletes. Campaigning so hard to have alumni back in the program coaching has maintained that legacy and that culture that’s been created.”

Following his retirement, Woods will continue to be involved with the cross country and track teams as a volunteer, but he also looks forward to spending more time with his grandchildren, reading and returning to teaching.

Current team members noted that they will miss his encouragement and insight.

“He’s more than just your coach, he’s your biggest fan,” senior Joanna Castrogivanni said.

Senior Sean Fischer added, “He’s been probably the biggest motivator for me to do anything while at college. He can just push on the things that you care about the most until you’re willing to sacrifice for your whole team.”

Woods said that above all, he has striven to instill a passion in the hundreds of athletes he’s coached both for running and for teamwork.

“That’s my philosophy: try to make it fun for them and try to make it an enjoyable experience,” he said. “I’m not a yeller and a screamer, I’m just a supporter and that seems to work pretty well.”

Top-ranked XC preps for conference meet

With two first-place finishes at the Inter-Regional Rumble held at Oberlin College on Oct. 18, the Geneseo men’s and women’s cross country teams are going to take a well-deserved break before they head into the rough part of their season. With another first place overall finish from senior Cassie Goodman, the women’s team had solid races from all of their top finishers—the Knights top seven runners all came in the top 23. Behind Goodman were sophomore Marissa Bellusci and juniors Ashton Hughes, Jacquie Huben and Rayanne Luke.

The men also had a successful day, with senior Cohen Miles-Rath finishing first for the Knights, 12th overall. The rest of the men’s top five runners all came within 20 places of each other. Behind Miles-Rath were sophomore Alfredo Mazzuca, junior Brendan Wortner, freshman Alex Burks and sophomore Adam Murphy.

With nationals fast-approaching, the Knights are in fantastic position in the regional rankings—first overall. Geneseo has not won a regional title since 2010. The women are also in great position, ranked second in the region.

Some of the teams that are ranked behind the men had good performances over the weekend of Oct. 18. Given the slippery conditions that were present at the course, the men and women should both remain where they are.

“The conditions were truly terrible,” head coach Mike Woods said. “It was real bad and it slowed some people down, but others definitely stepped up.” With the conditions feeling like a mud pit at Oberlin, the Knights powered through and gave strong performances.

With both teams winning on Oct. 18, they now have the weekend of Saturday Oct. 25 off before heading back to work on Nov. 1 for the SUNYAC Championships at SUNY Brockport. The cross country teams can now take this time off to buckle down and get ready for the SUNYAC championships that are ahead of them.

With the leadership of runners like Goodman, senior Keira Wood, Miles-Rath and senior Tim Mateer, these runners have given the Knights guidance throughout the season. They will need to continue their leadership throughout the remainder of what could be a tough schedule for the Knights. Even though the teams both look to be in good position, they can’t afford to let their guard down now when their goals are within sight.

Wood surprises in 1,500-meter race

As junior Keira Wood stepped up to run her first 1,500-meter race in two years, she wasn’t sure what to expect. Competing against athletes from all three divisions at Bucknell University’s Bison Outdoor Classic on April 11, she relied on endurance built up from a strong cross country season. Wood’s results were better than she expected.

“My plan for the [1,500 meter] was just to go out with the pack, kind of hang out in the middle, let them do the work and see what happens during the last lap and just go for it, and it all worked out great,” she said.

Wood surpassed her previous 1,500 time by nine seconds, achieving a new personal best of four minutes and 37.79 seconds – currently the ninth fastest time in the country. She placed third in her heat and tenth overall at the Bucknell meet.

Although the 800-meter is Wood’s main race, she has spent the first weeks of the outdoor track season training for both the 800 and 1,500 meters. She said a number of factors came together to help her performance in this particular 1,500.

“Everything just fell into place for Saturday night. The weather was perfect: perfect temperature, zero wind, under the lights,” Wood said.

The sheer ferocity of her race on Saturday April 12 left Wood fatigued for her 800-meter race the following morning, but also engaged her competitive spirit. After starting the season off with a strong finish, she said she knows she can speed up her time and hopes to make it to nationals.

According to assistant coach Mike Woods, the distance runner is “without a doubt one of the leaders on the team.” He attributes Wood’s success in the 1,500 to a strong close in the race and her hard work.

While the Bucknell meet is normally only distance and hurdles runners against top Division I schools, Woods said he sees her evolving in the both the 800 and 1,500 as the season continues.

Wood has been involved with track since seventh grade and said that she’s developed a longstanding passion for running.

“It keeps a balance in my life and definitely keeps me structured with time management,” she said. “I would not be able to do well in academics if I didn’t have athletics.”

Geneseo will host the SUNY G Open on Saturday April 18 and Sunday April 19, while qualifying team members prepare to attend the Penn Relays on April 24 in Philadelphia.