Championship Preview: Track and Field Teams Poised for Big Meet

Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - page 2

Women's Preview

A lot has happened to Nicolette Miller since she last competed in a conference track and field championship meet for Muhlenberg. She played soccer with a broken hand in the fall of 2010, studied abroad in Ireland in the spring of 2011 and played soccer on a bad ankle this past fall.

Nicole Pisani
Sophomore Nicole Pisani, who placed eighth as a member of the 4x200 relay team at last year's CC meet, has the 10th-fastest time in the 60-meter hurdles this season.
She admitted that she considered not coming back to the track and field team for her final semester, but she had a change of heart after the women’s soccer team ended the season on a five-game losing streak and missed out on the playoffs.

“I wanted that redemption ... soccer didn’t work out the way I had planned,” Miller said. “I thought of this as a way to end college feeling a little bit better.”

Here’s how members of the Muhlenberg women’s team stand on the CC performance list heading into Saturday’s meet:

Erica Bash, 6th
Samantha Mayden, 2nd
Nicki Cronin, 4th
60m hurdles
Stephanie Carnevale, 3rd
Amber Lee Wojtkowski, 5th
Muhlenberg, 5th
Muhlenberg, 5th
Muhlenberg, 1st
pole vault
Erin Saucier, 1st (tied)
triple jump
Tara Keegan, 4th

Miller and her Mule teammates – who are seeking a little redemption of their own – will travel to Ursinus for the Centennial Conference Championships on Saturday. And they have plenty to feel good about.

After finishing third at the CC indoor meet in both 2009 and 2010, the Mules slipped to seventh last year. That was the bad news, but the good news is that almost everyone who scored a point at the 2011 meet is back.

“It seems like we have a lot of people who are here this year and will be back next year too. We just keep getting better and better,” said Miller. “Even though I wasn’t on the team, I know no one was really happy with how last year went. We definitely want to get back to where we were freshman and sophomore years.”

Muhlenberg returns one gold medalist – sophomore Erin Saucier in the pole vault – and several other athletes who rank high on the CC performance list (see box). Miller, who was part of the 4x800 relay team that set a CC record two weeks ago at the Armory, will also run on a promising distance medley relay team.

And like all good runners do, the Mules are pacing themselves through the week leading up to the big meet.

“You try not to get pumped up too early because then you’re on an energy high all week,” said Miller. “Everyone is taking this week really seriously. We’re super focused.”

Men's Preview

Just because the long and triple jumps are often among the first events contested at a track meet, it doesn’t mean that Marc Brookland’s day is done when he’s taken all his attempts.

“There’s really no such thing as killing time,” said the Muhlenberg senior. “When you’re done, you have to be up and cheering for your teammates.

David Kurtis
Senior David Kurtis, a placewinner in the intermediate hurdles at the 2011 CC outdoor meet, is scheduled to run in the distance medley relay.
“Track and field is more of an individual sport than other sports, obviously, but at the end of the day you’re a team. We have to pull in as many points as we can, so when I’m done with my events I have to try to make sure my teammates do as well as they can.”

Here’s how members of the Muhlenberg men’s team stand on the CC performance list heading into Saturday’s meet:

Isaiah Vaughn, 2nd
Kyle Sullivan, 5th (tied)
Peter Rice, 5th (tied)
Isaiah Vaughn, 2nd
Peter Rice, 5th
Peter Rice, 1st
Jake Ullmann, 7th
Muhlenberg, 3rd
Muhlenberg, 3rd
Muhlenberg, 5th
high jump
Michael Baer, 5th
pole vault
Ryan Hellings, 2nd
long jump
Marc Brookland, 3rd
triple jump
Marc Brookland, 4th

The Mule men’s team will try to pull together to do the best it can at the Centennial Conference Championships at Ursinus on Saturday. Muhlenberg, which finished third each of the last two years, has been in and out of the regional top 10 this year and is looking to challenge some of the top teams in the region, including 19th-ranked Haverford, which has won the title 16 out of the last 18 years.

“The last time I felt this good about a team was my freshman year,” said Brookland. “I know all the seniors know how good we can be, and I hope all the underclassmen can feel how excited we are. We have a lot of depth and the opportunity to score a lot of points.”

If he has the kind of meet he had last year, senior Peter Rice will provide a good chunk of those points. Rice was named Most Outstanding Performer at the 2011 CC meet after winning the 200 and 400 and anchoring the first-place 4x400 relay team.

Rice ran his best time of the season in the 400 last week at Haverford, a performance that earned him CC athlete-of-the-week honors for the second week in a row. For a look at where Rice and other Mules stand on the CC performance list, see the box at right.

Brookland is a previous gold medalist, having won the long jump in 2010, while senior Michael Baer, junior Isaiah Vaughn and sophomores Andrew Onimus and Jeffrey Phillips were members of gold-medal relay teams.

As important as their physical talents are, the Mules will need to be mentally prepared, and they had good practice last week when their bus got caught in traffic on the way to Haverford. Once the team realized that it was going to be late, the seniors tried to make sure that everyone was relaxed and ready to run when the bus finally arrived.

Muhlenberg had a very good meet, and it hopes to duplicate that effort – without the delay – this weekend.

“I think we’re going to have some great performances on Saturday,” said Brookland.
Click here for the championship site.