BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Highlighted by a broken record in the 4x400 meter relay at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational, the Lehigh men’s track and field team put forth a tremendous weekend effort as the team split its squad to travel to New York City, while also hosting the 21st Annual John Covert Classic. The Mountain Hawks took home five victories at the Classic to cap the successful split squad weekend.
"We had a phenominal weekend in a lot of different respects," said Lehigh head coach Matt Utesch. "Our guys set a record in the 4x400 meter relay as a part of a spectacular weekend up there."
At the New Balance Collegiate Invitational in New York City, the men’s 4x400 team set a new Lehigh University record, running the race in an IC4A-qualifying time of 3:17.61, breaking the previous record set a year ago and finishing in second place. Also at the Armory, junior Jimmy Miller turned in an IC4A-qualifying time of 14:40.16 in the 5000m, finishing 10th in the event. Also posting an IC4A-qualifying mark at the meet was sophomore Adeolu Adesida in the high jump with a mark of 2.04 meters which was good for a second place finish.
"The plan is coming together," said Utesch. "We lightened up on them this week and they are doing what we need them to do out there. We’ve had several kids set personal records and we’re going to be in pretty good shape when we get to the Patriot League Championships."
In the 500 meter dash, junior John "Paul" Ciavardelli was the top performing Mountain Hawk, placing 18th with a time of 1:06.60. Sophomore Christopher Watson set the pace for Lehigh in the 800 meter run, finishing in 13th after crossing the line in 1:55.28, followed by fellow sophomore Daniel Paez who crossed the line in 33rd (1:56.36).
Junior Kenneth Wilkinson was the top performing Lehigh athlete in the 1000 meter run, placing 18th out of the field of 43 runners with a time of 2:29.78. Fellow junior Samuel Bernitt turned in a quality performance, placing fourth in the field of 18 runners in the 3000 meter run college after he crossed the line in 8:28.17. In the 3000 meter run challenge, freshman Evan Ward led the way for Lehigh, placing fourth with a time of 8:40.76.
The New Balance Invitational featured five of the top six teams in the nation, including No.1 Arkansas as the Mountain Hawks competed against the best collegiate competition in the country.
At the Classic, freshman Evan Ward took home the victory in the 5000m, crossing the line in 15:41.87 almost eight seconds ahead of the 15 other competitors as one of five Mountain Hawks to win their respective events. In the mile, Miller returned to Rauch Fieldhouse and began his day with a win, posting a time of 4:25.39 to edge out the 28 remaining competitors.
Lehigh earned another victory in the 500 meter dash as sophomore Mitchell Biler crossed the line in 1:08.01 to edge the five-man field by a half of a second, while Wilkinson placed second with a time of 1:08.51.
"Winning is always good and it is always good for your confidence," said Utesch. "Winning, combined with running fast, jumping high and throwing far is even better. We are doing some of that and so the system is working. Our kids are becoming more confident."
The Mountain Hawks took two of the top three spots in the weight throw as junior Benjamin Beauchamp and senior Christopher Buck placed second and third with throws of 16.19 and 15.90, respectively. In other field event action, freshman Tyler John posted a fourth place finish in the pole vault as the top performing Mountain Hawk, jumping 4.30 meters.
Another victory for Lehigh came in the 60 meter dash as freshman Hayden Jones took the win after posting a time of 7.05, beating out the 28-man field. Sophomore Casey Gilboy also kept Lehigh on top of the score sheets, posting a victory in the 3000 meter run after a time of 8:52.42
In the long jump, sophomore Derek Gaul posted a distance of 6.85 meters, good for a third place finish. In the 4x400 meter relay, the Lehigh team of Ciavardelli, sophomores Stephen Keith, Sebastian Nicewicz and freshman Caleb Grady finished second, turning in a time of 3:31.85.
This year’s Classic consisted of Moravian, Muhlenberg, Delaware, Shippensburg, Alvernia, West Chester, Kutztown, Messiah and Lafayette along with the host Mountain Hawks.
Lehigh will now compete at the Lafayette Rider Winter Games at the New York Armory on Friday, February 8 in what will be the final meet for the Mountain Hawks before the Patriot League Championships in West Point, N.Y.