BETHLEHEM, Pa. – After a month long hiatus for the holidays, the Lehigh women’s track and field team will return to competition with a meet at the New York Armory. The Mountain Hawks will be searching to build on their already strong foundation established in December with the Season Opener and Fast Times Before Finals meets.
"This break really scares me because you never know what kids are able to do once they go home at the location they happen to be at," said head coach Matt Utesch. "It’s an unsettling time, but we’ve had a week back to add speed to our technique. If we can do that and stay healthy, I think we’re going to be in really good shape as we head into this road trip to Army and the remainder of the season."
Lehigh will travel to New York for its first competition away from the newly renovated Rauch Fieldhouse as the Mountain Hawks continue in preparation for the indoor Patriot League Championships in West Point, N.Y. on February 15.
The Mountain Hawks have begun with a foundation of success after impressive performances at the first two home meets. Lehigh finished with a plethora of top five and first place performances at the Season Opener, which also resulted in E’Lana Lemon’s ninth Patriot League Female Field Athlete of the Week award after her qualifying toss of 17.17m in the weight throw, 3.71 meters ahead of the rest of the field.
In its latest meet, Lehigh continued with another strong performance at the Fast Times Before Finals meet which included a talent-based field of Penn, Alvernia, Ursinus, West Chester, Rider, Bloomsburg, East Stroudsburg, DeSales, Lock Haven, Lafayette and Millersville.
The meet was highlighted by first place finishes from both Brittany Pietrosh in the 1000 meter dash (3:03.82) and Danielle Albergo in the 400 meter dash (58.55). Along with the two first place performances, the Mountain Hawks also added multiple top five performances, showcasing the technique of the athletes, which will now couple with extensive training.
"This women’s team has a really good chance and a very good future," said Utesch. "I’m optimistic, but I’m still cautious because it is too early to tell."
This weekend’s meet will feature six teams including Rider, Ramapo, Army, Monmouth and Binghamton along with the Mountain Hawks. Rider competed well at Lehigh’s Fast Times Before Finals meet, winning seven events between its two teams inside Rauch Fieldhouse on December 7.
"This weekend is a tough weekend because we’re trying to feel out what our kids did over the break so this meet will give us a good indicator as to what happen to our fitness over break," said Utesch. "We have to find out if we built on what we had or if we lost a step."
At last year’s meet in West Point, N.Y., the Lehigh men’s team finished third out of six squads, while the women won the meet with a team score of 142 points which consisted of three event victories. Saturday’s meet will be the first on the road during the 2012-13 campaign for the Mountain Hawks. Lehigh’s first meet away from Rauch Fieldhouse a season ago was also the meet in West Point, N.Y.
"When we go on the road, we try to make the meet just like a home meet," said Utesch. "When we get to the facility at West Point, they are going to go through the same warm-up that they have all year long, the hurdles are going to be the same height. The surroundings are going to be a little different, but it comes down to it is just a track inside a building like it is at home."
"The kids get excited about going on a road trip which tends to give us a little more adrenaline, at least in the beginning," Utesch continued. "It is just a track meet and that’s what we are going to remind them. It’s six weeks to the Championships and we have to put up some times."
After Saturday’s meet, the Mountain Hawks will host the Angry Birds at Lehigh meet inside Rauch Fieldhouse on Saturday, January 19 beginning at 10 a.m.