Junior pole vaulter Kaitlyn Toman, left, and sophomore pole vaulter Caity Reverand wait in line to jump during the Lehigh Season Opener on Friday, Dec. 1, 2017, at Rauch Fieldhouse. One of the goals of the track and field team is to win a Patriot League Championship. (Annie Henry/B&W Staff)

Lehigh track and field kicks off 2017-18 season

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The Lehigh men’s and women’s track and field teams kicked off their seasons Friday on Goodman Campus.

The teams quickly moved into “Fast Times Before Finals,” which was an opportunity for the coaches to evaluate their runners and the teams’ strengths and weaknesses going into the season. It also gave players a chance to showcase their talents and the work they put in during the offseason.

“It’s a nice jumping-off point to see where we’re at,” junior multi and jumper Tyler Bannister said.

The team has been training every day since the beginning of the season and now the runners have started event work inside.

Joe Espinal, a sophomore sprinter and mid-distance runner, prepared in the offseason by training with the cross-country team. Though he is on both the cross country and track and field rosters, he only competes for the latter.

“Training with cross country is cool because they’re extra fit,” he said.

The runners are responsible for keeping up with their training over winter break as well. Espinal said this takes a lot of discipline.

“We work to have quality people in every event and hold them to a very high standard,” he said.

Utesch said something that could be a possible weakness for the team is its depth on the roster, which will improve through recruiting in the years to come. He said it’s not an issue week to week, but could become a concern toward the end of the season as the championship gets closer.

Espinal said the team’s goal for the season is simple: winning a Patriot League Championship.

This goal could be attainable with the help of upperclassman leadership and the strong freshman class.

“A bunch of the freshmen are really stellar,” Espinal said. “The leadership on our team is great, and I think that will help us to win a championship.”

On the women’s side, the expectations are the same. Bannister said the freshman class is talented this year and runners have been adjusting to fill the gaps left by graduated seniors.

“It will be interesting to see how everyone grows into their positions,” she said.

Utesch said the team showcases a combination of youthful energy and solid leadership from the upperclassmen. Some returning players will be key to the team’s success on both the men’s and women’s sides.

Senior Trevor Knowles, a multi and pole vaulter, is a two-time Lehigh record holder and a six-time Patriot League Champion. Utesch said the team is rooting for him to qualify for a national championship.

Other standouts include senior thrower Amanda Youngblood; senior sprinter and mid-distance runner Hanna Brosky, who is a second-year team captain; and junior mid-distance runner and steeple chaser Maura Henderson.

The team will return from winter break for training in early January.

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