Editorial note: This article was amended to include the new date in which the meet will occur, which is Sunday instead of Saturday. The meet was rescheduled after the article was originally published.
Lehigh and Lafayette College are set to square off in a track and field meet Sunday on Lafayette’s home site. Lehigh hopes to surprise its rivals and earn the win in the first big meet of the outdoor season.
“It’s the rivalry,” coach Deb Utesch said. “Someone always surprises you when they get to the line.”
Lafayette’s women have particular strength when it comes to their sprint team and their upperclassmen steeplechase runners. The Lehigh women have seen success in their field events — specifically throws and jumps — and have a deep group of female middle distance runners. Senior Elly Wardle will play an important role on Sunday with her jumps and multi-performance.
Similarly, the Lehigh men see strength in their distance and field events. Senior thrower Christopher Foley’s performance will be integral to Lehigh’s success. The Lafayette men also have a good group of throwers, but Foley is looking to use the rivalry to fuel his and his teammates performance.
“The rivalry to me is about inspiring the best out of each other,” Foley said. “Athletes of both teams are ready to put everything they got on the field for that one moment to hoist up the trophy over their heads.”
Lafayette senior Jarrel Bobb could be missing from the competition Sunday, which means he’ll be unable to compete in sprints or jumps. He is ranked No. 7 in outdoor long jump and is on the 4×400 relay team that is No. 2 all time in school history.
This meet will be the first full-team competition of the 2016 outdoor season, and winning this meet would set a precedent for success in the Patriot League Championship. The start of season had an atmosphere that was focused more on the individual, so the team said the coaches are excited to see how the team will perform together.
“In order to be in contention for our ultimate goal at the end of the season (of winning the Patriot League Championship),” Wardle said, “it’s extremely important we build confidence by coming out on top this weekend against Lafayette.”
The team has been focusing on technique and recycling after the indoor season, as well as lifting weights and breaking down its technique. After focusing on the little things, Lehigh wants to begin to compete from this meet.
“We are currently recovering from a few minor injuries and are relying on certain athletes to step up to fill some major spots,” Wardle said. “As long as we go out there and compete and replicate what we’ve been doing in practice, I have full faith we will come out successful.”
At the end of the day, Lehigh expects to leave the meet as victors over the team’s biggest rival.
“It does cause some tension between us, but my favorite part is the sportsmanship that comes at the end of the day,” Foley said. “We are able to put the competition aside and congratulate them on what always is a tough and exciting fight to win.”