What to watch for: Patriot League Track & Field Championships

Sophomore Devin Smith will be a major contributor for Lafayette this weekend.

Photo courtesy of Athletic Communications

Sophomore Devin Smith will be a major contributor for Lafayette this weekend.
Sophomore Devin Smith will be a major contributor for Lafayette this weekend.

Lafayette track and field will travel to Bucknell University to begin Patriot League Championships today. The meet will last through Sunday and features all ten teams in the league.

The majority of the program has been on campus training since January 3 in hopes of their best performances this weekend. Here is a rundown of what to watch for:

 

The Bucknell Lay of the Land

The facilities at Bucknell are older and its track is not banked. Almost all new tracks built today are banked and lead to faster teams.

Bucknell will have an advantage in sprints such as the 200-meter race (one lap) due to their frequent training on the flat track. Lafayette will hold this advantage as well.

“Our training facility has tight turns and narrow lanes so to transition to an actual regulation size track makes us way more prepared,” senior sprinter and hurdler Tim Shaw said. “Schools like [Boston University] and Navy have some of the nicest tracks and their adjustment to running on a flat track is going to be a lot harder for them.”

 

One Team

The central theme that ties this team together is its “One Team” concept.

“We came up with the saying when we beat Lehigh in outdoor last year and continued it into indoors,” tri-captain Rose Willey ‘14 said. “It’s really important to make sure everyone is united and has that mentality going into this weekend.”

Track is an individual scoring sport, but many members will need to string together high-scoring performances to improve upon the finishes last year – the Lafayette men and women both finished sixth with 15 points and 47.33 points, respectively.

“For track, it’s easy to get engulfed in your individual performance,” senior thrower and captain Rachel Pena said. “When we all support each other it’s easy to do our very best.”

 

Athletes to Watch

Pena and fellow captain Elise Buffinton ‘14 are top-ranked in their respective events in the Patriot League.

Pena is the number one seed for the 20-pound weight throw and the number two seed for the shot put. Buffinton tied her own school record with a vault of 12’ 9 1/2”.

Joining Pena and Buffinton is sophomore sprinter Devin Smith, who is the number four seed in the 400-meter dash and the anchor of the 4×400 meter relay. In her freshman season, Smith tied for first place in a down-to-the-wire finish at indoor championships in the 400.

The men feature athletes to watch as well. Sophomore Jarrel Bob is currently ranked top-five in the Patriot League in both the triple jump and the long jump. However, Bob was injured in the Lafayette-Lehigh dual meet on January 26 but will participate this weekend.

Chris Castello ‘16 is expected to score high in the heptathlon, which will be split into four events on one day and three the following day. Castello and Bob will then team up for the highly competitive 4×400 meter relay.

 

Realistic Expectations

“Our goal is to always finish in the top half of the league,” head coach Michele Curcio said.

With the addition of Boston University and Loyola University Maryland on the women’s side and Boston in the men’s events, the scoring will change from six places to eight.

This will in turn change the scoring as more points will be available.

Each school is allotted to bring 32 athletes per meet. Even the top teams in the league – Bucknell and Navy – will double and triple event its best athletes.

“I always tell our team if we individually do well and everyone competes as hard as they can that means there’s going to be good things for the team,” Curcio said.

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