Men falter on wet, cold track

Leslie Combs

The cold and dreary weather conditions last Saturday did little to help the cause of the men’s track and field team as it participated in the Penn Invitational.

Across town at the Quaker’s historic Franklin Field, the ‘Cats were unable to perform to their expectations on what head coach Marcus O’Sullivan termed a “miserable day.” The weather deteriorated to such a point that at the meet’s end, O’Sullivan made the decision to pull the 4×400 meter relay team to avoid the risk of injury to the four runners.

However dismal the day was for ‘Nova, the day was not lost thanks to the impressive performance of junior Tim Reilly in the pole vault.

“The highlight of the day was Tim Reilly qualifying for the Big East in miserable conditions,” O’Sullivan said.

Reilly’s vault of 4.55m placed him second, behind Penn’s Neal Wojdowski’s first place vault of 4.70m.

Other top 10 performances came from senior Aaron Smith with his seventh place finish in the 100m hurdles, finishing with a time of 11.15 seconds, and sophomore Andrew Blaich’s 9:40.92 minute run in the steeplechase that earned him second place.

Senior Patrick Moore placed third in the shotput with a distance of 15.13m and also earned a fifth place finish in the hammer throw going 42.20m. Classmate Justin Shockleford took sixth in the same event throwing 41.14m.

Shockleford went on to place eighth in the discus throw with a 40.57m distance while junior Benjamin Heebnor took seventh in the javelin throw with 54.36m.

Overall, O’Sullivan felt the men performed sub-par across the board in what was a relatively low-key meet. Many of the sprinters pulled out because of the inclement weather, and the top distance runners have yet to return to the racing circuit this season.

Given the short duration between the end of the indoor season to the start of the outdoor track-and-field campaign, many of the ‘Cats’ top runners have yet and take to the track this season. This weekend’s meet at Penn State between Princeton, UPenn, Penn State and ‘Nova marks the first time many of the ‘Cats who ran at Nationals a month ago will run outdoors.

“This weekend we are opening up with the distance runners,” O’Sullivan said.

While the majority of the men will travel westward in Pennsylvania, four ‘Cats are heading south to compete in the Sea Ray Relays in Knoxville, Tenn.

Junior Ryan Hayden will run in the 1,500m, while classmates Paul Moser and Carlos Bedoya will compete in the 800m and the 200m dash, respectively. Also, Senior Nic O’Brien will run in the 400m hurdles.

O’Sullivan hopes ‘Nova’s top runners at both venues will produce times to qualify them for regionals.

Just two weekends remain before the famous Penn Relays, followed the next weekend by the Big East Championships. The men have not yet qualified for the Big East Tournament and must turn out key races in order to earn qualifying times for Conference.

“We still have a long way to go,” O’Sullivan said. “We still need to continue to use meets as qualifiers. We are just moving forward with the spring season.”