BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh men’s and women’s track and field teams will head to Worcester, Mass. this weekend to compete in the Patriot League Outdoor Championships. Both squads have had a stellar outdoor season and will look to continue to ride the momentum into the meet they have been training for all season. The Championships will begin Friday at 9 a.m. and start up again on Saturday at 11 a.m.
"There is a lot of anticipation; this is what we have been working towards all season," said head coach Matt Utesch. "We are excited to get going and I think everyone is chomping at the bit to do what we’ve been waiting to do."
On the men’s side, Lehigh has had a strong outdoor season, including a dual meet win at Lafayette. Most recently, the Mountain Hawks are coming off some big performances at the Penn Relays and Lehigh Games. Evans Kosgei’s run in the 5000m Championship Race at the prestigious Penn Relays broke a 36-year-old school record as he placed 10th in the event with a time of 14:10.3, surpassing the previous record of 14:12.33 which was set by Wayne Rogers in 1976. Kosgei’s time also qualified him for the IC4A Championships which will be held next weekend in Princeton, N.J.
For his efforts, Kosgei was named the Patriot League Track Athlete of the Week. It was his second straight week winning the award as Kosgei, as two weeks ago, Kosgei finished eighth in the 3000m steeplechase at the Larry Ellis Memorial hosted by Princeton where he posted an IC4A time of 8:52.41. Kosgei’s time also set a school record, surpassing the 8:54.72 set by Alex L’Heureux in 2002. His time also might be good enough to qualify for the NCAA Regional Championships, which will take place in Jacksonville, Fl. May 25-26.
Jimmy Miller (14:31.26) and Tyler Mueller (14:38.22) had standout performances in the 5000m College race at the Penn Relays as the duo placed sixth and 13th respectively. Miller's time qualified him for the IC4A Championships while Mueller was just a few seconds off.
At the Lehigh games, the Mountain Hawks dominated, winning nine events, with two wins coming from Seth Robinson in the 110m hurdles and 400m hurdles.
On April 7, Lehigh defeated Lafayette 112-91 as the Mountain Hawks won 10 events to continue its success vs. the Leopards; it’s been two full years since the squad’s last loss to Lafayette (including indoor and outdoor).
At the 2011 Outdoor Championships, Lehigh placed fourth with 91 points behind Bucknell, Army and then Navy. Lehigh had four Champions in Kyle Forrest, Patrick Ciez, Kosgei and Stephen Tutunjian whom earned First Team All-Patriot League honors while Tutunjian and Kosgei also earned Second Team honors along with Alexander Maurer.
Tutunjian was named the Field Athlete of the Meet while Ciez was named the Rookie of the Meet. Tutunjian won the long jump and finished second in the triple jump while Ciez won the high jump.
"We just want to again get as many Patriot League Champions as we can and we have a lot of guys who are setup to do just that," Utesch said. "We are excited about where the men are and what they can do. I think it’s going to be important for our favorites to win their events and then we need some guys to make a splash in other events but I’m excited and looking forward to it and I can’t wait to see what we can pull off."
On the women’s side, Lehigh has also experienced a stellar outdoor season heading into this weekend. The Mountain Hawks have set numerous school records, defeated Lafayette in a dual meet and are recently coming off a historic weekend at the Penn Relays.
The 4X400m relay team took home a medal, one of the first relay medals at the Penn Relays in the Utesch-era, for winning its heat. That 4X400m relay team of Danielle Albergo, Khaaleedah Smith, Melissa Knapp and Kristin Slotnick ran a school record time of 3:52.91, surpassing the previous record of 3:53.08 which was set in 2008.
The DMR team at the Penn Relays of Julia Perry, Elizabeth McManus, Jessica Kendzor and Savannah Plombon also set a new school record with a time of 11:51.27.
E’Lana Lemon threw 51.12m to qualify her for the ECAC Championships while Jamil Ataman threw 49.4m in the hammer throw as the duo placed 15th and 19th, respectively. Katherine Pierce ran 9:54.68 in the 3000m Championship race which qualified her for the ECAC Championships, surpassing the time of 9:56.24 needed.
At the Lehigh Games, the Mountain Hawks continued to shine, winning four events including a pair by Rebecca Duhamel in the discus and the shot put.
On April 7, Lehigh defeated Lafayette 116-87 in a dual meet as the Mountain Hawks won 12 events to continue their success against the Leopards; like the men’s team, it’s been two full years since the squad’s last loss to Lafayette (including indoor and outdoor).
At the 2011 Outdoor Championships, Lehigh placed third with 84 points Bucknell and Navy. The Mountain Hawks had a pair of Patriot League Champions in Alexandra Doersam and Katherine Pierce. Doersam won the long jump with a distance of 6.03m, which set a new Patriot League Outdoor Championship record. Pierce placed first in the 10,000m run with a time of 36:22.58.
"We have someone who will score well in almost every event this year and we are a really well-balanced team," Utesch said. "Unfortunately, we are going against some other really strong and well-balanced teams. I think we will have a good number of Patriot League Champions and they stand to do some really great things."
No matter what happens this weekend though on the men’s and women’s side, Utesch will be happy about Lehigh's successfull season, but wouldn't mind some icing on the cake.
"We have had an incredible year," Utesch said. "We’ve set almost double-digit school records and have had some amazing accomplishments. It’s a great time to be a part of the program, we are doing really well. I couldn’t be happier with the year that we’ve had and I hope we can cap it off this weekend with some hardware."