BETHLEHEM, Pa. – In search of its first indoor Patriot League Championship, the Lehigh men’s track and field team will take to the track in West Point, N.Y. for the 2013 championships spanning from Friday, February 15 to Sunday, February 17. All of Friday’s action begins at 12:15 p.m. with the heptathlon.
"You have to fast whether you know the facility or not and that’s what we’re going to be looking to do," said Lehigh head coach Matt Utesch. "Everybody is amped and ready to go. They’ve been waiting for this and talking about it all year long. Our squad is anxious to get out there and ready to execute."
Last year, the Mountain Hawks scored 65 points en route to a fourth place finish at the championships which were held inside Gerhard Fieldhouse on the campus of Bucknell University. Stephen Tutunjian was the lone Lehigh first team All-Patriot League member after winning the long jump and triple jump. His performance also earned him the distinction of the Male Field Athlete of the Meet.
Also earning All-League recognition was Kyle Forrest after finishing second in the heptathlon. The Mountain Hawks have since lost both Forrest and Tutunjian to graduation, but a new crop of athletes will get their chance at competing not only for the All-League recognition, but also to bring home the championship for the first time in program history.
"I would say we are seasoned, but we’re ready to move beyond the past and do something great," said Utesch. "It’s time for us to get better and move into the top of the Patriot League."
Lehigh will compete for the second time this season inside Gillis Field House after taking part in the Army six-way meet on January 12. In that meet, the Mountain Hawks finished fourth out of the six competing teams as sophomore Derek Gaul led the way with a victory in the long jump.
The Mountain Hawks also turned in three other second place finishes with junior Martin Otieno in the 60 meter dash (7.01) and the 200 meter dash (22.66), coupled with sophomore Ryan Mahalsky in the 5000 meter run (15:19.54).
Sophomore Adeolu Adesida tied with three other athletes in the high jump for the first place finish after posting a height of 1.99m, while junior Patrick Ciez took fifth with a jump of 1.94m.
Adesida and junior Ryan Paquin own top marks in the Patriot League this season, Adesida holding the high jump with a height of 2.04 and Paquin in the heptathlon with a score of 4763.
"They are definitely our anchors and go to athletes, we look to them to be our impact people," said Utesch. "They’re going to do what they do, but our depth is what is going to make the difference this weekend. Those kids are going to make the big difference on where we end up at the end of the day and that’s what makes track and field a true team sport."
After Sunday, those that have qualified from the Mountain Hawks’ squad will compete at the IC4A/ECAC Championships in Boston, Mass. for a chance to advance to the NCAA Indoor Championships. The IC4A/ECAC’s will be held on March 1, while the NCAA Indoor Championships will take place on March 8 to conclude the indoor season.