Preview: Track and Field Teams Have "Eyes on the Prize"

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - page 2

Ryan Hellings will finish first at the Centennial Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships this weekend.

Muhlenberg women in the top 10 on the CC performance list:

Stephanie Carnevale, 3rd
Kirsten Kuchera (below), 4th
Erica Bash, 8th
Samantha Mayden, 3rd
Samantha Mayden, 2nd
Melanie Tramontina, 8th
60m hurdles
Stephanie Carnevale, 2nd
Amber Lee Wojtkowski, 4th
Muhlenberg, 7th
Muhlenberg, 5th
Muhlenberg, 1st
Muhlenberg, 2nd
high jump
Colette Faust, 2nd
long jump
Ashley Riley, 7th
triple jump
Ashley Riley, 5th
pole vault
Erin Saucier, 2nd
Bre Biondi, 7th

Kirsten Kuchera

That’s not to say he’ll win the gold medal in the pole vault, although he very well could – the Muhlenberg senior currently ranks third on the CC performance list and has placed in the top three in five (bronze three times and silver twice) of his six career CC meets.

Hellings and fellow vaulter Jacob Miller-Sobel will be the first Mules on the men’s team to complete their event. In a departure from the meet schedule of prior years, the men’s pole vault was moved to Friday to accommodate the newly added women’s pentathlon and men’s heptathlon. The rest of the meet is on Saturday.

“I’m excited about [competing before the rest of the team],” said Hellings, a team co-captain. “Setting the tone is crucial. If we can put up big points, it could really push us in the right direction.”

Muhlenberg men in the top 10 on the CC performance list:

Andrew Onimus

Isaiah Vaughn, 3rd
Isaiah Vaughn, 1st
60m hurdles
James Knight, 10th
Muhlenberg, 2nd
  (Andrew Onimus, above)
Muhlenberg, 5th
Muhlenberg, 3rd
high jump
Brandon Tauber, 8th
long jump
Michael Schwarz, 9th
pole vault
Ryan Hellings, 3rd
Jacob Miller-Sobel, 7th
shot put
Rami Hamdan, 7th

The Muhlenberg women are also looking to head in the right direction at Ursinus this weekend. After finishing third in both 2009 and 2010, the Mules dipped to seventh for the last two years.

“This is the best our team has been since my freshman year,” said senior Lexie Daniells. “The last two years were rebuilding years, and we finally have the depth that we’ve needed. I’m so excited to see how the girls perform.”

That depth is evident on the CC performance lists. Of the 17 championship events (not counting the pentathlon), Muhlenberg has someone in the top eight in all but two, with senior Samantha Mayden and junior Stephanie Carnevale, who have combined to break four school records this season, in the top three in multiple events (see chart).

The Mules return two former gold medalists in senior Colette Faust (high jump) and junior Erin Saucier (pole vault). They also have half of their 2012 first-place 4x800 relay team back, and Muhlenberg could repeat, as the new quartet had the best time in the CC in the regular season.

In addition to talent and depth, the Mules will be relying on their team unity to carry them.

“To be a team sport you have to be able to recognize everyone’s ability – the throwers, the distance runner, the sprinters,” said Daniells, who owns the Mules’ top time in the 400 and was a member of the distance-medley relay team that set a school record for a flat track last week at Haverford. “We’ve grown an appreciation for all the athletes in all the events. We are all working towards the goal.

“We just have to prepare for the mentality of a long day,” she added. “We have to stay focused that whole time and keep our eyes on the prize.”

For the men, the prize may be more subtle than improving their place in the standings. The Mules have finished in the top four in 11 of the last 12 years, including fourth last year, but graduated the most prolific medal winner in program history – and all the points he brought.

“It’s just about hitting on all cylinders,” said Hellings. “We have to come in ready to outperform people who are higher than us on the performance list. If we do that, we’ll have a great meet.”

There’s no one higher on the performance list in the 200 than senior Isaiah Vaughn, who won a gold medal with the 4x200 last year and will be called on to contribute in multiple sprinting events. Vaughn also is seeded third in the 60, and other than Hellings, the team doesn’t have anyone else in the top three in an open event (see chart).

But the meet is all about what happens Saturday, not what happened earlier in the season.

“Each week we put up better and better performances,” said Hellings. “If we can keep on that trend, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to upset the current numbers.”
Click here for the meet site.