BETHLEHEM, Pa. – With less than three weeks before the Patriot League Championships, the Lehigh men’s track and field team will host crosstown rival Lafayette on Saturday in the annual Lehigh-Lafayette dual meet beginning at 2 p.m. The Mountain Hawks are coming off a third place finish at the Angry Birds meet last Saturday.
"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 Mountain Hawks 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.
Lehigh will now look to culminate its work against Lafayette and translate the energy gained from competing against the Leopards into results on the board. With the Patriot League Championships looming, Lehigh-Lafayette takes on another precedent.
"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."
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. The Mountain Hawks will be looking to improve on their all-time record against the Leopards which stands at 9-13.
"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."
After Saturday’s meet, the Mountain Hawks have three meets before competing in the Patriot League Championships on February 15. Lehigh will travel to the New Balance Championships on February 1 before hosting the John Covert Classic on February 2. The final event for Lehigh before the championships will be the Lafayette Rider Winter Games on February 8.