Track and field teams place fourth at championships

The Allegheny men’s and women’s track and field teams competed in the NCAC Championships on March 4 and 5, with both teams placing fourth.

“We had to overcome a lot of roadblocks we were not expecting,” said Amanda Balzer, ’17. “Our distance medley relay got cut because the entry was wrong which affected our scoring. Everyone fought through that and we placed fourth…and we all qualified for a final. We were PRing or breaking records in events which shows a lot about the team.”

Balzer won her heat of the 60 meter hurdles, placing sixth overall, with a career-best time of 9.43 seconds. Josie Niovich, ’16, ran a new program record in the event with a time of 9.07 seconds and placed second in finals.

Freshman Emily Forner placed second in the 3,000 meter run with a career-best time of 10:21.67, earning her first All-NCAC honor. Forner was followed by Monica Patrick, ’17, in third with a 10:27.09 and S.J. Guillaume, ’17, in fifth with 10:41.23.

“My race was pretty as expected. I ran what coach wanted me to run,” Forner said. “As a team we had a lot of tough breaks, but we did well.”

On the men’s side, thrower Christian Miranda, ’17,  placed first in the weight throw with a 15.82 meter throw, setting a new career best and earning a NCAC title.

“A challenge was trying to get comfortable, to be able to perform to the best of my ability and block out distractions,” Miranda said. “Other than winning conferences, my favorite part was the energy that surrounded our team and cheering on everyone,” Miranda said.

Following the championship weekend, Miranda was named Gator Athlete of the Week.

“I was definitely surprised and very happy and honored,” Miranda said.

The team participated in team bonding activities throughout the week leading to championships to build excitement and team energy.

“My favorite part is always secret psych,” Balzer said. “We’re all assigned a person to psych up in the week leading up to it then the night before we give a bigger gift to prepare. It helps us get ready to cheer each other on.”

Forner said the team cheered for each other and brought a lot of energy into the weekend.

“Going into championships there was a lot more camaraderie. We were all excited and wanted to see each other break records and be the best athletes we can be,” Balzer said.

Preparing for conferences brought more pressure than other meets, but the teams kept focus and looked ahead at their races.

“There are more nerves involved in championships,” Balzer said. “Normally I talk a lot before my races but I really tried to get in the zone and focus before championship.”

In order to deal with the pressure and mentally prepare for championships, team members altered their standard pre-meet routines.

“Going into the week I knew I had to focus and know this was it. I had to do the best I can, but I couldn’t add extra pressure and treat it like any other meet,” Miranda said.

Following indoor championships, the teams began practices for their outdoor competition season.

“I’m so excited for outdoor,” Balzer said. “I want to see the energy we came into indoor conferences with transfer to outdoor and have a better season with fresh air.”

The men’s and women’s teams are ready to be outside and practicing on the full length track at Robertson Athletic Complex.

“I’m looking forward to being outside and throwing the hammer and javelin and hopefully throwing PRs. I’m aspiring to win both championships and go to nationals,” Miranda said.

The men and women began the outdoor season on Monday, March 7 and will begin outdoor competition on March 26 at the Carnegie Mellon Invitational in Pittsburgh.