Moments of tension and relief added up as Lehigh men’s track and field team placed fourth and the women’s team placed fifth at the Patriot League Indoor Championships held at Navy’s Wesley Brown Field House on Feb. 16 and 17.
Kyle Berman earns first place in 1000m
Senior mid-distance runner Kyle Berman earned first place in the 1000m and sophomore distance runner Sean Brown came in shortly behind him to earn second. Both Berman and Brown broke Lehigh’s previous school record in the event.
Berman had previously set a personal record at Boston University earlier in the season. Berman said he was filled with confidence in the days after setting his personal record, but as his victory became more cemented to the past and the championship meet got closer, he fell victim to self-doubt.
“I started wondering, ‘Can I do it again? How (will I) do this when it matters?’ Berman said.
Berman said he decided not to compete in any events prior to the Patriot League Championships because he wanted to be rested. In this time, he organized his thoughts and realigned his mentality going into the championships.
In the week leading up to the championships, Berman’s self-doubt became an uncertainty that he accepted.
“It doesn’t matter what you’ve done before,” Berman said. “It doesn’t matter what the clock says. You just have to go out there and win.”
When the blank was fired from the starting pistol, Berman said he went out fast, and that after the first few laps, he had distanced himself enough for there to be a clear gap between him and the other runners that he saw on the Jumbotron.
Berman said in the last lap of the race, he couldn’t run as fast as he started. He tried to gauge the distance between him and the other runners by listening to the cheers of the other teams, but it was too loud to get a feel for it.
“Next thing I know I’m on the railing and I’ve got my teammate behind me who out kicked the entire field,” Berman said. “It’s over. I didn’t even notice the pain in my foot.”
Women’s team wins first in relay
The women’s team also experienced victory, as four runners earned first in the 4x800m with a time of 8:48:80, breaking three records — Lehigh’s school record, the Wesley A. Brown Field House record and the Patriot League Championship meet record. The runners included junior sprint and mid-distance runner Mary Casey, junior sprint and mid-distance runner Sophie Antonioli, freshman distance runner Jade Sessions and senior mid-distance runner Clare Severe.
When all four runners were standing in their uniforms and had their spikes on, Antonioli said reality of the race set in after Severe gave the event an emotional charge minutes before the race.
“‘Girls, I’m just going to say this once, this is my last indoor 4x800m, and 4x800m is my favorite event,'” Severe said.
Antonioli’s idea of the relay had included Brooke Schaeffer, a junior sprint and mid-distance runner, who had a stress fracture that kept her from competing in the championships.
To Antonioli, Schaeffer’s absence was another channel of energy that fed the relay team and that led to her most memorable moment of the championships.
“After the relay, (Schaeffer) came over crying—in the best way… We all put our medals around her,” Antonioli said.
Lehigh also had strong performances in the field events as sophomore thrower Brittany Curtin won the women’s weight throw competition.
Curtin’s 18.29m throw won her a Patriot League Championship and broke her personal record.
Prior to the championships, Curtin’s was ranked seventh in the league, and a mere 50 cm separated her from first.
“In the two weeks leading up to championship, I had been throwing like I never had before,” Curtin said.
Curtin said she was nervous, but felt physically ready for the championships. She said throws only last a split second, but all the energy exerted leading up to and after them is exhausting.
“I couldn’t be more excited for the next couple of years,” Curtin said. “I’ve thought about how quickly it’s all gone by, and its crazy because I can’t imagine not doing this… (My time here) has taught me to cherish these moments.”