BETHLEHEM, Pa. – After the women coasted to a 97-84 victory, the men’s side came down to the final event in which Lafayette prevailed for a 91-89 win as the archrivals split the meet. The women won the event yet again behind senior Julia Perry and junior Brooke Astor who were named athletes of the meet. Junior Ryan Paquin and senior Devin Monroe earned the honors on the men’s half.
"It shouldn’t have come down to that race," said Lehigh head coach Matt Utesch. "We should have never been in that situation for the meet to come down to the relays because our men’s team is deep and strong. They just didn’t get it done today and when you leave the door open a little bit, Lafayette is going to jump all over it and they did."
Deadlocked at 86 points apiece, the Lehigh men’s track and field team squared off against Lafayette in the 17th and final event, the 4x800. The teams traded leads many times during the race, but the Leopards were able to push across the finish line for a victory just over one second ahead of the Mountain Hawks. Lehigh’s team of sophomore Simon Voorhees, sophomore Gregory Caldwell, junior Kenneth Wilkinson and junior Sam Bernitt put forth a valiant effort in the deciding race, but were unable to knock off the Leopards.
"The guys are upset and they’re going to come back with a vengeance," said Utesch. "They’re motivated now."
Prior to that race, senior Lyle O’Brien made a gutsy decision to take an early lead in the men’s 3000 meters and was able to keep his advantage through the finish line, posting a time of 8:32.64 for the victory, propelling Lehigh to a lead late in the meet. The Leopards went on to take the 4x400 meter relay which forced a winner-take-all in the 4x800.
Earlier in the meet, Lehigh posted impressive results, taking first and second in the high jump as junior Patrick Ciez and sophomore Adeolu Adesida turned in jumps of 2.00m and 1.95m, respectively. In the long jump, sophomore Derek Gaul posted a distance of 7.02m for the victory, followed by Paquin at 6.77m for second.
Paquin then went on to take the triple jump with a distance of 13.51m and 13.40m in the jump-off. Junior Benjamin Beauchamp and senior Christopher Buck took first and second in the weight throw with tosses of 16.68m and 15.74m, respectively.
In the 60m dash, junior Martin Otieno continued his impressive season with a victory after crossing the line in 6.97 seconds, a full second ahead of the second place Leopard.
Monroe earned a victory in the 200 meter dash, posting a time of 22.55 which was just ahead of Otieno who came in at 22.59.
On the women’s side, the Mountain Hawks dominated the high jump, taking three of the top four spots with Astor earning the victory with a jump of 1.65m. Senior E’Lana Lemon continued to impress in the weight throw, tossing a Patriot League-best 18.10m, eclipsing her previous high of 17.95m.
"Julia and Brooke are the workhorses of the program," said Utesch. "E’Lana Lemon keeps throwing farther every week. She’s making great technical changes and she is going to keep moving forward."
In the mile, Perry decisively won the event after turning in a time of 5:03.55 which was about 17 seconds faster than second place finisher sophomore Jennifer Markham.
"It was really a great performance," said Utesch. "It went a lot like we thought it would. There were some ups and downs, but our top kids really came along and did a great job and I’m very pleased with that."
Astor continued her dominance in the 60 meter hurdles, taking the event with a time of 8.78 seconds, while junior Jess Kendzor earned a win in the 500 meter dash after crossing the line in 1:17.72. Senior Khaaleedah Smith continued Lehigh’s success in sprints with a victory in the 60 meter dash after posting a time of 7.94.
In the 800 meter run, Lehigh’s Pietrosh’s swept the event as senior Lauren Pietrosh picked up the win (2:18.18) while senior Brittany Pietrosh finished second with a time of 2:19.78.
Perry added to her exceptional performances with a victory in the 1000 meter run after crossing the line in 2:57.40, almost two seconds faster than the second place Leopard.
The Mountain Hawks concluded the day by sweeping the relays as the team of junior Danielle Albergo, sophomore Halie Carter, Smith and Kendzor took the 4x400 with a time of 4:02.02, while Brittany Pietrosh, Lauren Pietrosh, senior Kathleen Ryan and sophomore Ingrid Simon capped the day with a win in the 4x800m, posting a time of 9;48.19.
The athletes of the meet on Lafayette’s side were Christopher Parker, Mac McGuire, Brittany Powell and Devin Smith.
Lehigh will be back in action when it travels to the New Balance Championships on Friday, February 1 before hosting the John Covert Classic inside Rauch Fieldhouse on Saturday, February 2 beginning at 10 a.m.