BETHLEHEM, Pa. – After third place finishes by both the men’s and women’s teams at last Saturday’s Angry Birds meet, the Lehigh track and field squads will rekindle their Lehigh-Lafayette rivalries with a dual meet against the Leopards inside Rauch Fieldhouse on Saturday. The Mountain Hawks will get their second look at the Leopards this season at 2 p.m. and will continue preparations for the Patriot League Championships.
"It’s just a tough week all the way around, but when we’re done and have both trophies we’ll be relieved," said Lehigh head coach Matt Utesch. "In the big picture, we’re looking for great seed times. This is going to be challenging because both teams are going to be running really fast. They’re going to bring it and this weekend is going to be a three hour dogfight."
Highlighted by victories from junior Martin Otieno in the 200 meter dash, freshman Tyler John in the pole vault and junior Sam Bernitt in the 3000 meter run, the men’s team posted 127 points en route to a third place finish at last weekend’s Angry Birds at Lehigh meet.
Otieno set the bar for the sprinters, winning the 200 meter dash with a time of 22.67 after placing third in the 60 meter dash (7.00). Also on the track side for Lehigh, junior Sam Bernitt crossed the line in 8:35.49 in the 3000 meter run for Lehigh’s second win on the track.
On the field side of the meet, freshman Tyler John won the pole vault after defeating Penn’s Everett Hateley in a jump-off with a height of 4.36 meters for the victory, earning the Mountain Hawks nine team points.
The Lehigh-Lafayette dual meet brings out the energy in the student-athletes, increasing the adrenaline and intensity on both sides. The Mountain Hawks will look to use that adrenaline and channel it into results when they face off against their crosstown rival.
"I think we use our adrenaline really well," said Utesch. "That extra adrenaline is how, we as humans, determine fight or flight and traditionally we have fought. We manage our adrenaline well and this is what the kids have waited for."
The women scored 137 points en route to the third place finish, highlighted by a Patriot League-best toss of 17.95 meters in the weight throw by senior E’Lana Lemon. That throw earned her a second straight Patriot League Female Field Athlete of the Week award, her third of the season and 11th of her career as a Mountain Hawk.
Also netting a victory was senior Lauren Pietrosh in the 800 meter run, crossing the line in 2:17.93, just ahead of fellow senior Julia Perry (2:18.17) who earned a second place finish. The Mountain Hawks also posted multiple top five finishes on the day, including junior Danielle Albergo’s second place finish in the 400 meter dash with a time of 58.55, one of three runners in 14-women field to clock in under a minute.
The Mountain Hawks will now turn their attention to crosstown rival Lafayette for Saturday’s dual meet, one of just four meets remaining until the Patriot League Championships which are set to kick-off in less than a month (February 15).
Lehigh hosted the Leopards earlier in the season at the Fast Times Before Finals meet on December 7. The Mountain Hawks posted many successful finishes in that meet including first place finishes from Brittany Pietrosh in the 1000 meters and Danielle Albergo in the 400 meter dash on the women’s side.
The Mountain Hawks will need to channel their energy against the longtime rivals into results on the board as the Patriot League Championships loom just a few short weeks away.
"This is the weekend that will be a really good indicator for the Patriot League Championships," said Utesch. "This is the peak of competition at this point of the year and everybody is amped up. There is a lot riding on this weekend."
Both teams will be looking to improve their all-time records against the Leopards this weekend as the women's team trails 6-15-1 in the all-time series, while the men are behind 9-13.