Men’s and Women’s Track and Field: A young team off to an impressive start


Photo from Utica College Athletics

Emily Joss, Staff Writer

On Feb. 21, the men’s and women’s track and field teams traveled to Colgate University to compete in their first meet since March 7, 2020. The men’s team finished the day in first place after rounding up 49 points, while the women’s team placed third with 28 points on the day. 

The coaching staff is working with a young team this year, with well over half of the team’s runners entering either their first or second season. 

However, even those athletes who are entering their second year have little to work off compared to the sophomore class in years past as they were stripped of their entire spring season last year.

For this, assistant coach Claire Incantalupo sees this season as a restorative one. 

“This season in my opinion is going to be a ‘rust buster’ to shake off last year and the prior inability for the athletes to compete,” Incantalupo said. “Regardless, they are eager to put their all into achieving high marks and fast times this season.”

Incantalupo was not wrong in her beliefs as the young program pulled together eight event wins between the men’s and women’s teams on Feb. 21 – six of which were won by first-year players in their collegiate debuts. 

For the Pioneers, some of these distinguished runners include first-year sprinter Daijon Richards who – in just one meet – has already received an Empire 8 Track and Field Athlete of the Week award and has placed himself third on the list for UC’s all-time fastest 60-meter dash. 

Another notable first-year is sprinter Janaiya Cruz-Bermudez who finished second in the 200-meter at Colgate. 

Unlike most other teams, the members of the track and field team are lucky enough to complete their season with little variance in the ways they are practicing and competing. 

“Not much has changed for us besides wearing masks,” John Boisette, an assistant coach of the teams said. “Track and field is a sport where we already practice social distancing by the nature of the sport.”

Even yet, Incantalupo admits that the scene of the team’s meets lacks much of the energy all athletes look forward to and thrive on. 

“The atmosphere was drastically different to what track and field meets usually are: hundreds of people, the constant roar of the crowd and adequate recovery time between events,” Incantalupo said. “I think mentally, it was a tough situation to walk into, and yet many of our athletes adapted, rose to the challenge and competed well.” 

The coaching staff and athletes alike have worked hard to keep their season intact. They are well aware that keeping everyone safe and healthy will be just as important to this season as showing up and winning.

“This has been a tough year to say the least for athletic programs all over the nation,” Incantalupo said. “But what keeps me excited is that our athletes continuously show up, work hard and remain focused and disciplined in their practices.” 

The men’s and women’s teams will be in action again Friday, Mar. 12 as they host Russell Sage College in a dual meet.