The men’s and women’s track and field teams traveled to Fairfax, Va. on April 11 to compete at the George Mason University Spring Invitational. Both teams saw substantial amounts of success.
For the women, junior Ella Baran was the standout performance. She earned first place in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 16:40.85. This time was good enough to be the second-best time nationally in Division-III this season. The second-place finisher in the race finished 23 seconds behind Baran.
Baran talked about her top-two time.
“It feels a little surreal,” she said. “Like most people, I had a pretty turbulent year, especially with my training. I was recovering from a stress fracture and low ferritin levels in the fall, so going into this season, I had no idea where I was fitness-wise. But with so many setbacks, even the smallest of successes feel that much more celebratory and the huge successes so much more exciting.”
The 1,500-meter run was a great race for the Blue Jays. Senior Ariel Keklak placed in the top five with a time of 4:31.57. Senior Therese Olshanski finished in the top 10, a few seconds behind Keklak. Freshman Paloma Hancock finished in 16th place as well.
Victoria Kadiri, another standout freshman, has continued to perform well in the long jump. This week she placed fourth with a distance of 5.66 meters. Kadiri also placed in the top 15 in the 100-meter dash.
Senior Annie Gutierrez is also worth highlighting, as she had several top finishes. In the pole vault, she was fifth with a height of 3.53 meters, and in the 100-meter hurdles, she placed seventh with a time of 14.86 seconds. She also finished in the top 20 in the long jump and javelin throw.
Baran talked about watching her teammates succeed.
“I’m ecstatic. My teammates blow me away every time, especially given how many setbacks we’ve all faced this past year,“ she said. “While those outside our team haven’t seen it, I’ve witnessed first-hand all the hard work everyone puts in on a daily basis. Supporting one another at meets these past two weekends has been something I’ve missed, and I’m just so excited to see where that takes our team.”
For the men, there was some similar success. The standout performer was perhaps graduate student Mickey Van Gieson, who finished sixth in the 200-meter dash. His time of 22.14 seconds is the best time in the Centennial Conference this season. Senior Ian Imery and junior Elias Boussouf also finished in the top 20 in the race.
In the 5,000-meter run, sophomore Matthew Kleiman and graduate student Josh Derrick both finished in the top five, both with times below the 15-minute mark. Junior Tyler Amos finished in ninth and senior Patrick Dye finished in 10th, only a few seconds behind their teammates.
Still, the men struggled considerably in many events against their Division-I competition, especially in the field events. Nevertheless, Van Gieson was awarded the honor of being the Centennial Conference Track Athlete of the Week. On the women’s team, Keklak was named also named Track Athlete of the Week, while Kadiri earned Field Athlete of the Week.
Baran talked about setting goals for the season.
“After a long hiatus from being together as a team, our greatest goal is to reconnect and form stronger relationships,” she said. “We’ve had full-team virtual events over the year, but it’s so hard to recreate meet-day excitement and Hop chants. After seeing so many strong performances over the past couple weekends across field, sprints, and distance, I’m getting excited for what championship season may bring.”
Some Blue Jays will head back to Virginia for the Virginia Challenge on Friday, April 16, while the rest will stay in Baltimore to compete in the Hopkins/Loyola Invitational. The events will take place at the Hopkins/Loyola Track and Field Complex over the course of Friday and Saturday.