The men’s and women’s track and field teams made their season debut at the Towson Invitational on April 2 and 3.
On day one of the meet, the women’s squad posted impressive times in the 1,500-meter race. Junior Ella Baran topped her personal record in the event, running 4:33.58 to take first place. Seniors Ariel Keklak and Therese Olshanski followed close behind, finishing in second and sixth, respectively.
Freshman Victoria Kadiri and sophomore Marissa Hsu competed in the 100-meter dash. Kadiri crossed the line with a time of 12.71, and Hsu finished in 12.99 seconds.
Day two saw more impressive outcomes from the women’s squad.
In the 5,000-meter run, junior Alex Ross won the event with a time of 17:11.35, which currently stands as the second-fastest time among all women’s Division-III runners this season. Junior Aishanee Wijeratna came in fifth, running in 18:43.18.
Keklak ran for 2:14.64 in the 800-meter race, taking fourth place. She described her thoughts on how the year-long hiatus impacted the team’s training.
“The break due to COVID-19 has definitely served as a challenge, but I think our team is fortunate that the training for track and cross country doesn’t really change in the offseason,” Keklak said. “The most challenging aspect has definitely been staying motivated without knowing when we will get to race, but having teammates in Baltimore to run with has helped in being consistent and training.”
Senior Annie Gutierrez shattered the school record in the 100-meter hurdles by finishing in 14.83 seconds. Off the track, Gutierrez also placed seventh in the high jump, clearing 1.5 meters.
Kadiri also broke the freshman record in the long jump with a leap of 5.55 meters, taking third in the event. Senior Veronica Montane threw for 42.56 meters in the javelin, which earned her second place overall.
The men’s team also came out with strong performances on the first day of competition.
Junior Elias Boussouf and sophomore Kevin Sommer took third and fourth in the 400-meter hurdles, running exactly a 10th of a second apart at 57.77 and 57.87 seconds.
In the 1,500-meter race, freshman Gavin McElhennon placed second with a time of 4:03.04. Graduate student Joshua Derrick made his debut as a Blue Jay in this event as well, taking fifth with a time of 4:07.41. Junior Tyler Amos also earned a spot in the top 10 with his 4:08.35.
On the second day, the men’s team continued to place toward the top in their events.
The pair of graduate student Alex Glavin and senior Jared Pangallozzi took first and second in the 5,000-meter race, coming in at 14:27.69 and 14:34.53, respectively.
Glavin felt grateful to be back after over a year without any formal meets.
“Honestly, I missed every part of racing, even the nerves and pressure. The team has been putting in so many hours of hard work, so I’m glad that we finally got to see it pay off,” he said.
Graduate student Mickey Van Gieson finished in fifth place in the 400-meter dash, clocking 50.16 seconds. In the 4x400-meter relay, Van Gieson, Sommer, Boussouf and Alex Ozbolt combined to run 3:26.52 for third place.
The men’s team also competed well on the field.
In the high jump, sophomore Owen Bianchi cleared 1.85 meters to take third. Bianchi went on to get fifth in the long jump with a jump of 6.36 meters. Junior Sean Becker threw for 28.18 meters in the discus for a fourth-place finish.
These performances allowed for the men’s team to grab second place at the meet out of a field of nine schools. The women’s team scored 66 points, which placed them third out of 11 schools.
Keklak reflected upon the meet and shared her outlook for the season.
“I think the meet went as well as could be expected for not racing in over a year,” she said. “I’m hopeful as we get some more meets in, everyone will keep feeling good and excited and set us up for an opportunity to win another Centennial Conference title and qualify as many people as possible to nationals.”
Both the men’s and women’s teams will travel to Fairfax, Va. to compete at the Mason Spring Invitational on April 11.