After a delayed start due to Friday’s snowfall, the Elizabethtown College men’s and women’s track and field teams started their season when they hosted the Early Bird Opener on Saturday. Alvernia University, York College and Gwynedd-Mercy University competed alongside the Blue Jays in 40 events throughout the day.
The Blue Jays have been training long and hard for the highly-anticipated start of the season. “We currently are in a challenging weight training cycle, with a specific focus on leg strength,” Head Coach Joel Hoffsmith said. The team has been preparing for the outdoor season, specifically the opener, since the start of the indoor season in December.
“It takes a lot of focus and practice to challenge myself for this first meet,” sophomore thrower Thomas Abell said. “We spend all winter season inside in one of the small racquetball rooms working on only two events, but when we head outside for spring, we double the amount of events. So it just takes quite a bit of time to get readjusted, and that alone is a large challenge,” Abell said.
The meet began at 1:30 p.m. on Old Red with the men’s hammer throw, which then led to the start of running and other field events at 3:00 p.m.
First-year Brittianni Phillips first broke the school’s record during the indoor season and she did it again on Saturday by placing first in shot put with 11.75m (38’6-3/4″). Sophomore Amanda Porter placed second in the competition with 11.21m (36’9-12″).
Junior Ryan Conway gained 10 points for the Blue Jays by placing first in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Conway earned the eighth-best time in the school’s history by clocking in at 9:48.35. “I’m coming off of the best indoor season of my life,” Conway said. “However, my strongest point of competition would have to be my facial hair #noshavespringtrackseason,” Conway said. Junior Zach Trama finished second at 10:02.10, followed by junior Sam Cooper in third and sophomore Nate Liebsch in fourth.
Senior Andrew Khela bettered his fourth-place listing in school history by adding a personal best in the hammer throw at 40.16m (131’9″) earning second place. Senior Nathaniel Flickinger came in third with 36.20m (118’9) as well as placing sixth on the school’s top ten list. First-year Matthew Pysher earned fourth in the competition and eighth on the top-ten list.
The top sprinter for the Blue Jays was first-year Mitch Schlegel who finished first in the 100 meter dash at 11.34. Schlegel’s 100 meter dash time earned him a spot on the top-ten fastest time list in the school’s history.
Sophomore Elizabeth Wedekind placed first in the 5,000-meter run with a personal record time of 18:33.35. “I was so happy after the win because I stayed mentally in the race the whole time,” Wedekind said. “I pushed so hard for the first two miles, which made the third pretty tough, but I mentally stayed strong which helped so much. Positivity is key.” Sophomore Amy Gessler followed close behind, crossing the finish line at 18:58.49.
The men’s team finished on top in seven events while the women’s team finished with six individual winners and an additional relay win. Out of all four schools, the Blue Jays came in first place in men’s with 255 points and in women’s with 232 points.
This is a great start to the spring season for both the men’s and women’s teams. The Blue Jays will travel to the campus of Susquehanna University on Saturday to compete in the Jim Taylor Invitational. The teams will have a quick turnaround as they will compete in the York (Pa.) Twilight Meet on Wednesday.