Pioneers track and field team rewrites record books this season, Empire 8 Championships this weekend.


Utica XCTF

The record breaking 4×400 meter relay squad from left to right: Janaiya Cruz-Bermudez, Mackenzie Mix, Jade Dening and Laura Meade.

Shane Tinney, Contributing Writer

The 2021-2022 Utica Pioneers track and field team continued its dominance as the indoor season comes to a close. The all-time leaderboards in program history are being filled up by a number of athletes and are rewritten after every meet.

“It’s a testament to how hard everybody is working,” head coach James Lemieux said. “We’ve got a great group of coaches, but more importantly, we’ve got a great group of athletes.” 

From the women’s team, freshman Mackenzie Mix is taking the program by storm. In just her first season, Mix currently holds the school record in the 400m race with a time of 59.19 and is inside the top ten in program history for both the 60m and 200m races. 

“It’s definitely a crazy and surreal feeling,” Mix said. “I feel like I can still keep improving, and even though you can have a good time, you can always get better.” 

Mix is also a member of the star-studded women’s 4x400m relay team that features herself, sophomore Janaiya Cruz-Bermudez, freshman Jade Dening and senior Laura Meade who ran a time of 4:03.69 at Boston University earlier this month, giving them a new school record. 

The relay team is filled with individual success with Cruz-Bermudez being in the top ten in program history for the 500m race, Dening inside the top ten for the 800m, 1000m and indoor mile race, while Meade is inside the top five for both long and triple jump, as well as the top ten for both the 60m and 400m races, along with her teammate Mix.

For the men’s sprints, sophomore Daijon Richards and junior Josh Washington are each having strong seasons as well. Both Richards and Washington have run times this season that have placed them in the program’s top five in school history for the 60m race, and top ten for the 200m race. 

The Pioneers are shining in the field events, just as much as they are on the track. For women’s shot put, junior Jane Fahy has the furthest toss in school history, throwing for a distance of 13.08m. This throw for Fahy came earlier this season when broke her own school record.

Earlier this month at Boston University, junior Antwan Kelly tossed a new personal best of 16.61m in the men’s weight throw, which would break his own school record of 16.58m he set in 2020. Kelly’s toss would put him just inside of the top 50 nationally. 

“It’s something that I’m proud of because when I came into the program, it was my first goal when it came to weight throw,” Kelly said. “It just comes down to how you train for the week. The way I think about it is the competition starts Monday and not the day of the meet.” 

Also at Boston University, men’s thrower sophomore Hunter Logan threw a personal best in the shot put with a distance of 16.42m. Logan’s toss would give him the second-best throw in program history, and also currently has him ranked seventh nationally.

The future looks very bright for the Pioneers track and field team. With all of the young talent and returning athletes on the roster, the Pioneers will be a force in the Empire 8 Conference for years to come.

“Everything is moving in the right direction,” Lemieux said. “For the most part, we will have almost everyone back for next year.”

The team will wrap up their indoor season with the Empire 8 Championship meet at home beginning on Friday, Feb. 25 and will look to carry their momentum into the outdoor season.