Track and field stars continue to light up the conference

The Allegheny men’s and women’s track and field teams are more than halfway through their season after their previous competition on Saturday, Feb. 4. The teams were split, with two men competing at the 19th Annual Akron Invitational and the rest at the Jim Wuske Invitational at University of Mount Union. The women also competed at University of Mount Union.

Throughout this season, team members have broken numerous school records. Mihaela Toader, ’23, broke the school record in the 200-meter dash with a time of 25.90 at the Youngstown State University Mid-Major Invitational on Jan. 27. This past weekend, Stephen Cullinan, ’23, broke the school record of points held in the heptathlon with 4,620 points.

Toader came in first in the 400-meter dash this past weekend with a time of 1:00:16 seconds, which is the second-best time in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference, and placed second in the 200-meter dash. With this being Toader’s last indoor season of her collegiate career, she plans on going far.

“This competition (at Mount Union) was good practice; it’s getting us ready for championships,” Toader said. “My goal is to make it to Nationals and earn an All-American title. For the team, I want us to put as many points together as possible and get a conference win.”

Toader is no stranger to success. She was named the PAC Track Athlete of the Week for women for her performance at Youngstown State University, and she was awarded the same title again for a second week in a row for her performance at Mount Union.

“It’s rewarding to get recognized and beat records; everyone is finally seeing all the hard work I’ve been putting in the off-season, and it makes me feel great,” Toader said.
As much as she trained for her last season, Toader said she still knows when her body needs rest.

“I typically train in the morning at six with my coach and then again later at practice,” Toader said. “It can be a lot, but I’m managing it well. I’ve also started to implement more rest days for my body as well as start cross-training. I swim on Sundays to help my body rest, but to keep it moving.”

On the men’s team, Cullinan is a standout member. At the Youngstown State Invitational, he had the second-best jump of his career at 6.18 meters during the long jump. This past weekend, Cullinan won his second heptathlon with 4.620 points at the Akron Invitational and was named the PAC Track Athlete of the Week for his performance. With conference championships coming up soon, Cullinan has a lot to focus on. He credited his teammates with keeping him motivated.

“I’m not surprised by all the achievements and records that we’re breaking,” Cullinan said. “Everyone here is super dedicated and has been putting in so much work, and it’s incredible to see it all paying off. Every time I come into practice, I see and greet these people, my teammates, who have such positive mindsets and attitudes, and that helps me out so much.”

Cullinan plans to compete in the pole vault and 200-meter dash at this weekend’s competition in Ohio. He is currently ranked in the top three in the PAC for pole vault and high jump. After his record-breaking heptathlon this past weekend, he is now ranked 23rd in NCAA standings. He is just a few points away from qualifying for Nationals.

Coming back from this past competition, Head Track and Field Coach Ben Mourer, ’07, gave an outlook for the rest of the season.

“We are really encouraged for both teams right now, the women’s team especially, because we are the favorites to win the conference championship,” Mourer said. “The men may not be in the best position to win, but we have some guys that can score some big-time points.”

Two competitions are left before the PAC Conference Championships on Feb. 24. After this season, both the men’s and women’s track and field teams will have to rebuild without Toader and Cullinan.

“It’s tough losing those two,” Mourer said. “It can be argued that they are the best-ever in their events here. (They are) major losses,” Mourer said.

However, the legacy an athlete can leave behind is something that Mourer and his assistants have been exploring with their teams this year.

“The seniors wanted to leave their marks on the program before they’re gone,” Mourer said. “Stephen and Mihaela will be doing that in a very positive way. Essentially, we talk about how the younger athletes want to start their legacy and how the older athletes want to leave it.”

The season is not over yet, though. The men’s and women’s teams participate in the SPIRE Indoor Games at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio, on Saturday, Feb. 11.