BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh men’s and women’s track and field programs will begin their preparation for a journey towards the Patriot League title on Friday when the Mountain Hawks host the Season Opener. Lehigh will be one of six teams competing on Friday in the first event of the 2012-13 indoor season set to be held at Rauch Fieldhouse on the Goodman Campus starting at 5 p.m.
"This meet has really grown over the past few years and has become very large," said head coach Matt Utesch. "We’re looking for our technical athletes to go into this event and execute what they have been practicing in a meet setting. It’s a chance for the underclassmen to get a taste of what a college meet involves as well as giving the upperclassmen an opportunity to execute in a little more of a pressure situation."
Along with the Mountain Hawks, Alvernia, Johns Hopkins, Army, Bloomsburg and Lock Haven will be in the mix at Friday’s competition.
At last season’s Season Opener, Lehigh produced 14 first-place finishers, highlighted by 10 on the women’s side. The event was a strong showing that kicked off a season which ended with a fourth-place finish by the men and a third-place finish by the women at the Indoor Patriot League Championships.
On the women’s side, cross country senior captains Sam Andersen and Tori Berard will assume the same position on the track team, while junior Brooke Astor and senior Kristen Slotnick will captain the field squad.
Astor is coming off an impressive season that concluded with a first team All-Patriot League selection, while Slotnick was a first and second team All-Patriot League selection in the outdoor championships after being a part of the second place 4x400 meter team before winning the 4x100 meter championship.
The men will be captained by juniors Tyler Mueller and Jimmy Miller on the track side and senior Christopher Buck and junior Patrick Ciez on the field half. Mueller and Miller have gained experience as captains, as the two led Lehigh’s men’s cross country team to its first Patriot League title in October, but the track and field side of leadership is slightly different and more complex.
"Being a captain on the track team is very difficult because we’re not playing the same game, as everyone has their own event and then it is scored as a team," said Utesch. "We look for our captains to lead by example and then transfer their leadership skills to teammates in other events. Communication for our captains is integral to the foundation of the team."
Mueller enjoyed an extremely successful fall on the cross country team in which he racked up two wins and was consistently one of Lehigh’s top performers all season. Miller was the Mountain Hawks’ top performer at the Patriot League Championships, finishing fourth en route to the title.
Lehigh will need to carry-on without a few key departures as the Mountain Hawks have lost All-Patriot League selections Kyle Forrest, Katherine Pierce and Alexandra Doersam, among others, from the 2011-12 brigade. Utesch understands that though the loss of those athletes opens vacant spots, it also presents the opportunities for growth within his program.
"You can’t replace kids that graduate, but some kids will see the void that is created and try to fill it," said Utesch. "Sometimes it is a combination of athletes that step up to fill the void left behind. If you show the kids where the void is and give them the opportunity to fill it, it can happen in a much greater way than anticipated."
Doersam was a first and second team All-Patriot League selection at the outdoor championships with a win in the 4x100 meter relay before a second place finish in the 4x400 relay, while Forrest was a second team selection at both the indoor and outdoor championships. Pierce was a second team All-Patriot League selection at the indoor championships after placing second in the 5000 meter run.
Among some of Lehigh’s key returners, the Mountain Hawks will bring back 2012 Indoor All-Patriot League team selection Jessica Kendzor who won the 800 meter run at the indoor championships a year ago. Lehigh will also bring back three of the four members of the 4x800 meter relay champions including Kendzor, Julia Perry and Lauren Pietrosh, all of which earned first team All-Patriot League honors.
On the men’s side, the Mountain Hawks will return Devin Monroe and Justin Mahoney who are coming off third and fourth place finishes in the 400 meter dash at the outdoor championships, among several other outstanding athletes.
The field events will start at 5 p.m. with the men’s long jump, while the track events will begin at 6:30 p.m. with the men’s 60 meter hurdles.
A full schedule of this weekend’s action can be found below, while printable version can be found in the related links section above. After this weekend’s meet, the Mountain Hawks will return to action on December 7 with the Fast Times at Lehigh meet inside Rauch Fieldhouse.
TimeSchedule: (We will run ahead of schedule if possible)
Field Events Women’s Multi Events – Men to follow
3:30PM Javelin (Weather Permitting) 5:00PM Women’s 60m Hurdles Men’s Dash
5:00PM Men’s Long Jump Women’s High Jump Men’s Long
6:00PM Men's Pole Vault (Women PV to follow) Women’s Shot Put Men’s Shot
Women's 20lb WT (Men’s 35lb WT to follow) Women’s Long Jump Men’s High
Women's High Jump (Men HJ to follow) Women’s 800m
Women’s Shot Put (Following 35lb WT)
Men’s Shot Put (Following Women’s SP) Saturday: Men’s Multi Starts at 9:00am
Women's Long Jump (Following Men LJ) Men’s 60m Hurdles
Men's Triple Jump (After Women LJ) Men’s Pole Vault
Women's Triple Jump (After Men TJ) Men’s 1000m
6:30PM Men’s 60m Hurdles
6:45PM Women’s 60m Hurdles
7:10PM Men’s 60m
7:20PM Women’s 60m
7:35PM Men’s 400m
7:55PM Women’s 400m
8:10PM Men’s 800m
8:20PM Women’s 800m
8:30PM Men’s 200m
8:50PM Women’s 200m
9:15PM Men’s 4x800m relay
9:25PM Women’s 4x800m relay
9:40PM Men’s 4x400m relay
9:50PM Women’s 4x400m relay