In nearby Annapolis, MD the men’s track team kicked off their ‘12–’13 season at the Navy Invitational with a strong performance against several Division I teams.
The day’s spotlight was on junior Julian Saliani who turned in a blazing performance in the 3,000 meter run. Saliani ran a time of 8:37.88, breaking the all-time Hopkins record set in 2010 by seven seconds and earning a 10th place finish in the race.
Saliani was not the only Blue Jay to set a record at the meet. Freshman Schaffer Ochstein bested the previous freshman record in the 5,000 meter run by an astounding 34 seconds, coming in at 15:12.90. Ochstein was followed by fellow freshman Josh Baker who finished wih a time of 15:17.40.
In the 1,500 meter run, juniors Weston Butler and Ryan Alvarez both ran a time of 4:09, followed by freshman Ryan Schwartz’s 4:13 time, a personal best.
As the team’s first meet of the season, naturally there were some questions about how the Blue Jays would perform. Butler said “I felt prepared, but I definitely didn’t know what kind of shape I was in. This kind of cost me in my race because instead of winning my heat I got second just behind the winner. I had a great kick so that’s a good sign for this early in the year.”
On his preparation for the season, he added “Personally, I think I’ve added a bit more mileage to my daily regimen along with a little bit more lifting. I have been a little lazy in the past in terms of core work and upper body strength so I’m trying to work on that a little more.”
Despite the early jitters, the team recognizes the long term goals the program has for this season. Butler said, “the team was very motivated after our close losses in both conference championships indoor and outdoor. We lost by about 20 points in indoor and then only 5 in outdoor. Talk about frustration. Coach Van Allen did have some words before this meet saying, ‘Guys, we lost to Haverford last year both indoor and outdoor by a very small margin. We want to be centennial conference champions? It starts today. Let’s compete and show the conference what we’re all about.’”
In the distance medley relay, Hopkins fielded a team consisting of junior Ben Press running the 1200m, freshman Trevor Holmgren in the 400m, junior Steve Hyland taking on the 800m, and junior Andrew Carey anchoring in the 1600m leg on their way to a second place finish behind top finisher William & Mary.
Sophomore Ryan Walsh gave Hopkins its best individual finish of the meet, coming in second in the high jump, reaching 6’ 4.25’’. Walsh was joined by freshman Josh Paek who leaped 6’ 0.5’’ in his competitive debut.
Although the team was unable to get an ideal result, they performed well for their opening meet of the season. In an interview with Hopkinssports.com, head coach Bobby Van Allen said “while I’m not overly excited about our times, the guys competed really well.”
Looking forward, the Blue Jays will look to make some more noise in the Centennial Conference late in the season. After coming up just shy of the Conference Title last season, the men are chomping at the bit for more this year.
Butler said, “the team’s main goal right now is to definitely win the Centennial Conference and then to obviously send as many people as we can to Nationals. Some short term goals are to achieve the conference qualifying marks and definitely get as high as we can on the conference performance lists to set ourselves up well for the championships.”
Next up, the Blue Jays will head to Princeton to compete in the New Year Invitational on December 9th. It will offer the team another opportunity to get into mid-season track form in this young season. After Princeton, the team will not return to the track until the new year on Jan. 11 at the Gotham Cup.