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Track & field teams launch 2011-12 season
Bearcats open up at Cornell Indoor Relays on Saturday at 10 a.m.
December 2, 2011
With a strong veteran presence, the Binghamton men’s track & field squad heads into the 2011-12 season poised to continue its run as one of the top programs in the America East Conference. The Bearcats have been the runner up at the past four conference indoor meets as well as the two most recent outdoor championships. In the past five NCAA indoor meets, Binghamton has had a individual qualifier. Since 2007, Binghamton has had five All-America selections. This year, head coach Mike Thompson and the squad are determined to maintain their level of individual and team excellence.
“We should be strong this year, equal to last year’s team and possibly stronger,” Thompson said. “We cover most events well and are looking for a top-two finish at the America East Championships.”
Fifth-year senior Erik van Ingen heads into the season as Binghamton’s most accomplished runner. He was a USTFCCCA first-team All-American in the indoor mile and outdoor 1,500 last year. During the last indoor season, van Ingen was named the America East’s Most Outstanding Men’s Indoor Track Athlete as well as the Northeast Region Men’s Indoor Track Athlete of the Year.
“Erik is looking strong and is ready to improve upon his exceptional season from last year,” Thompson said. “He has established himself as one of the best collegiate milers in the country and is looking to take his running to the elite level in 2012.”
Junior Jeff Martinez swept both the 5,000 and 10,000 titles at the America East Outdoor Championships last May. At the East Regional meet, he nearly qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 10,000.
“Jeff is right on the verge of becoming a national-class runner in the 5,000 and 10,000,” Thompson said. “He has the talent and discipline to make NCAAs and we are looking forward to seeing how his season unfolds.”
Van Ingen and Martinez lead a deep and talented distance group. Graduate students Adam Quinn and Andrew Ugolino were second and third in the America East Outdoor 3,000 Steeplechase. Senior Jesse McCormick and sophomore Chris Fernandez joined van Ingen on the 2011 outdoor conference champion 4x800 relay team. During the recent cross country campaign junior Vasili Papastrat was ninth overall and fellow junior Anthony Gaetani was 15th.
Other returning distance runners include juniors Mike Jennings and Jason Santos. This year’s top freshmen include Collin Frost, Cal Michaels, Jesse Garn and Josh Miller, all of whom have the potential to score at the conference meets.
Fifth-year senior Cazal Arnett returns for one last outdoor season. He qualified for the 2009 NCAA Indoor Championships and has been named the America East’s top men’s track athlete three times during his career.
“Cazal is in exceptional shape and is as motivated as I have seen him in his time at Binghamton,” Thompson said. “He wants to get back to NCAAs and he wants to reestablish his position as the top long sprinter in the America East. He is capable of doing both in 2012.
With junior Devin Askew in the short sprints, fifth-year senior Jesse Fuca and junior Casey Gilbert in the hurdles as well as seniors Chris Veney, Karl Schnabl and Zach Keefer, the Bearcats return several sprinters who have scored at the conference meets. This year’s newcomers include freshmen Zaid Al-Doori, Alex Sterling and Eric Ziegler along with senior Jerome Robinson.
Binghamton’s tradition of outstanding pole vaulters continues this year with seniors Robb Quiller and Eric VanAernam as well as junior Adam Helman leading the way. Quiller won the America East outdoor titles in 2009 and 2010 while Helman is the defending conference indoor champion. VanAerman, meanwhile, has been a consistent top-three conference finisher during his career. Veney is the top long and triple jumper for the Bearcats while senior Nelson Hall is the top high jumper. Ziegler is the top newcomer in the long jump.
Senior Colin Anderson and junior Greg Feathers lead a group of throwers that has consistently improved the past two seasons. Both scored points at the conference meets last season. Freshmen Pat Heikkila and sophomore Jason Bensaull will add quality depth in the throwing events this year.
After a couple of lean years, the Binghamton women’s team enters the 2011-12 season on the upswing. After finishing either seventh or eighth at the previous few conference meets, the Bearcats improved to sixth place during the 2011 outdoor season. This year, most of the key scorers from last spring return.
“The women’s team is coming into the season with a renewed sense of purpose after finishing strongly in 2011,” Thompson said. “We lost few people to graduation and have a talented freshman class and this group has the potential to become the best team we have put together in many years.”
Junior Jessica Hennig continues to be the top athlete on the Binghamton women’s squad. She has won back-to-back indoor conference titles in the 400 and anchored the 4x400 team that placed second overall at the America East outdoor meet last spring.
“Jessica has been great since joining the team two years ago,” Thompson said. “She is talented, disciplined and an exceptional competitor and hopes to make the NCAA Regional meet in 2012.”
Senior Jessica Conter and sophomores Kathleen Klein and Erica Kisel were the other three runners on last year’s 4x400 team. Conter and Kisel also scored at the 2011 conference meets in the sprints. Senior Kaitlin Sullivan is the top hurdler, having placed fifth in the 110 hurdles at the conference outdoor meet last spring. Freshman Ivory Taussig and sophomore Lisa Luchsinger, a transfer from Purdue, are the other top sprinters.
Junior Jenna Marrione is a four-time America East runner-up in the pole vault. She concluded the 2011 indoor season with a fifth-place finish at the ECAC Championships.
“Jenna has been a solid performer at the conference level and is looking very good so far in training,” Thompson said. “Her technical skill is starting to catch up with her athletic ability and she the potential to make it to the NCAA Regional meet and possibly further in 2012.”
Sophomore Camille Ginyard was fifth in the pole vault at the ECAC Outdoor Meet last year while junior Ashley AuPont was the America East runner-up in the outdoor high jump. Sophomores Alexis Murray, Sara Wickes and Paige Ware along with freshman Alexx Baum will compete in the long and triple jumps, freshmen Christy DiMichele will specialize in the pole vault and freshman Kristin Hovie all will compete in the high jump.
Fifth-year senior Ashley Horton was third in the conference outdoor 3,000 steeplechase last spring and junior Carly Keiss was sixth in the same event. Juniors Lindsay Raulli and Rachel Miura are seeking to bounce back from injury-plagued sophomore season. Sophomore Caitlin Jelenik and freshman Shavonna Hinton are the other two top distance runners.
Senior Abigail Oakes has developed into a consistent conference scorer in both the discus and shot put. Murray, meanwhile, placed in the javelin last year at the America East outdoor meet.
Sophomore Jessica Goldberg was fourth in the America East Indoor pentathlon and seventh in the outdoor heptathlon. Also capable of excelling in those events are freshman Daniella Olusoga, senior Alice O’Dell as well as Wickes and AuPont.