The Lehigh track and field team graduated key players from last year such as Elizabeth Weiler, the 2016 Patriot League champion and 5,000-meter record-holder.
However, coach Matt Utesch said he is not worried about this upcoming season. Courtney Avery, Lehigh’s outdoor and indoor high jump record-holder, isn’t either.
“The team had made a lot of progress last season and I am excited to see how the freshmen do this season,” Avery said.
Utesch is also excited to see what the freshmen class brings to the table and expects freshman Hannah Bonaguidi, who he described as “the No. 1 women’s cross country runner.”
Last season, both teams worked toward improving the team culture and weaknesses. Utesch said they did this by establishing the way they do things on the track and in the weight room.
The team is ready to take what it learned last year and bring it into the upcoming season.
“Last year we realized our potential, and now we put in a lot of effort for this season,” Avery said.
Utesch said there are many graduated athletes such as Adeolu Adesida, a graduate student from last season who was the 2015 high jump champion, that will be tough to replace. However, Utesch is confident in the men’s distance runners.
“Coach Todd Etters does a great job on replacing our distance runners by recruiting cross country runners, they had a great season,” Utesch said.
Junior Trevor Knowles, sophomore Ryan Givens and senior Lucas Warning are expected to anchor the men’s side. Knowles has never lost an indoor or outdoor Patriot League Championship, and Givens returns after garnering second team All-Patriot League honors in the long jump at the 2016 outdoor Patriot League Championships. Warning is the school record-holder in the indoor shot put event.
Warning believes this year the team will have a shot at improving on last year’s performance.
“The younger athletes that we have will put us into a better position,” Warning said. “Even though we have tough competition, we have a lot of talented kids and if we show up, we definitely can compete.”
On the women’s side, Avery, senior Sarah Cassidy, junior Hanna Brosky, senior Katie Hatler and junior Amanda Youngblood will be the team’s key contributors. Youngblood earned second team All-Patriot League honors for her runner-up showing in the discus event at the Patriot League Championships last spring.
“We always have a little trouble with Boston University and Bucknell University, but with the progress from last season we will give them a run for their money,” Avery said.
The Mountain Hawks will be up against Alvernia University, East Stroudsburg University, Eastern University, Gwynedd Mercy University, Moravian College, Muhlenberg College, UPenn, Rowan University, Temple University and West Chester University in the season opener Friday at the Rauch Fieldhouse on Goodman Campus.