Both the Lehigh men’s and women’s track and field teams finished fourth overall at the Patriot League Indoor Track and Field Championships on Feb. 29 and March 1 at Rauch Fieldhouse.
The women’s team placed fourth out of 10 with a total of 82.33 points, finishing behind Navy, Army and Boston University, while the men placed fourth out of nine with a total of 62 points, finishing behind Navy, Army and Bucknell University.
Men’s Track and Field
The 4×800-meter relay team finished second overall, and the 4,000-meter distance medley relay group of freshmen Connor Melko, Brandtson Duffie, Thomas Leitner and sophomore Kyle Burke placed second. Sophomore Michael Nardelli placed third in the 60-meter hurdles.
The Mountain Hawks’ overall success also came as the result of strong individual performances. Senior pole vaulter Joey Kelly placed first in his event, while freshman sprinter Zach DeLone secured his first collegiate medal — silver in the 200-meter dash.
DeLone has already made a significant impact on the team, winning Patriot League Rookie of the Week twice this year and continuing his momentum with his performance in the 200-meter dash on March 1.
DeLone said his secret to success is his intuition.
“Trust in our coaches,” DeLone said. “(I’m) running my race the way I know how.”
While senior jumper Erik Metz did not make the podium — finishing fourth in the triple jump and eighth in the long jump — he still impacted Lehigh’s overall placement.
Metz said small things, like proper mental preparation, were key to the team’s performance.
“The biggest challenge today was getting ready to compete against this field,” said Metz. “As a Division I school, we face a lot of really tough competition, especially from the academies. Being ready to take on the kids who already have the names you know about, already have the marks you know about and being able to approach it with an underdog mentality — making sure that you have enough confidence to go up against these people — is important.”
Women’s Track and Field
The women’s team also had a largely successful day, with five podium placements.
Sophomore Jade Sessions placed third in the 4×800-meter relay and in the mile run, while junior Brett DeWeese came in third in the 60-meter hurdles.
Lehigh dominated the high jump, with senior Jordan Otto winning gold and freshman Calista Marzolino placing second. The 4,000-meter distance medley relay group of seniors Brooke Schaeffer and Mary Casey, junior Alexis Smith and sophomore Nicole Abbondandelo finished second.
Junior Brittany Curtin said her personal results, and those of the team, exceeded her expectations.
Curtin was seeded 10th in shot put, but ended up finishing fourth with nearly a half-meter personal record.
“There were so many unexpected good performances,” Curtin said. “So many people stepped up today. This is my third year, and it’s the most energized (championships) I’ve been to.”
Curtin said she believes the Mountain Hawks can compete for a first place overall victory in the outdoor championships in the spring if they continue with the same intensity.
Assistant coach Khayla Atte outlined Lehigh’s plan for the future and said there is always room for improvement.
Atte said attention to detail was an important part of training in the weeks leading up to the championships. Minor tweaks — like perfecting starts and finishes — as well as mental conditioning and nutrition will continue to be focal points for the Mountain Hawks, she said.
Atte said there are plans to add some variety to the team’s routine.
“(We intend to) change up our training so they don’t get bored and, of course, set aside some time to decompress and have fun,” Atte said.
With the winter season now complete, Lehigh’s track and field is gearing up for its spring season, which begins in late March.