On a very cold, very wet Saturday afternoon, both Miami’s men’s and women’s track and field teams placed at the top in the 22nd annual Miami Invitational.
Running at home for the first and only time all season, the poor running conditions were no match for Miami’s top runners. The men’s team took home a second place finish, scoring 125 points, while the women beat 13 other teams, winning the entire invitational. The women’s team score of 199.5 was 92.5 points of the second place Cincinnati Bearcats.
The women grabbed three first place finishes on the day. Sophomore Alexis Lape won the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:03.92. Her two teammates, junior Andrea Tepe and redshirt freshman Alisha Jones followed her across the tape, taking second and third in the event.
Freshman Margarita Pogorelov pulled in a first place finish in the 100 meters while senior Lashonda Davis took first place in the long jump, flying 19 feet 1 ¼ inches to the top of the podium.
Along with the three first place victories, the women’s team sent athletes to the podium in 14 other events, including top three finishes in pole vault, long jump, triple jump, 1,500 meters and hammer throw.
The women continued their dominance as the 4×400 meter relay took first place with a time of 3:58.93 while the 4×100 meter relay placed third.
Yet the conditions did play somewhat of a factor in the end result of the invitational.
“In my 10 year career of running track, I’ve never had to run in worse conditions,” said sprinter Stefan Flessa. “It seemed like a lot of the times were slower with the cold but not everyone’s – Pat Sovacool had one of his best times ever.”
Sovacool’s first place finish in the 1,500 meters with a time of 3:47.80 was enough to qualify him for the NCAA MidEast Regional. Two other RedHawks on the men’s team managed first place finishes.
Junior Ben Robinson won his first individual event in a college meet in the 800 meters in a time of 1:56.87. Additionally, junior Bryan Ferres took the top spot in the javelin as well, with a throw of 174 feet and 6 inches.
The men’s team was able to take capture 12 top-three finishes, climbing the podium for the 200 meters, hammer throw, high jump, 400 meters, 5,000 meters, long jump, and 3,000-meter steeplechase.
Running for the first time all season at home, the RedHawks enjoyed the chance to have their friends and fans cheer them on.
“The Miami Invitational is always fun to be in because you are able to run in front of people you know,” Flessa said. “You actually have people cheering for you.”
While being away constantly takes its toll on the runners, sometimes traveling is a nice escape.
“We would like to have more home meets, but it’s nice to go to other campuses,” junior Brandon Kistler said. “It’s nice to go down south where the weather is nicer where we run better.”
This weekend’s meet means the season is almost over for the track teams, as each team has a couple more meets before the season ends.
The women travel to Tennessee next weekend to compete in the Vanderbilt Invitational while the men travel to Cincinnati for the All-Ohio Championship.
“I think we did pretty well (this season), a lot of guys are coming back from injury or are injured,” said sophomore Alex Boiwka. “So there’s always room for improvement.”
Both the men’s and women’s team will end their seasons with the MAC Championships May 10 to 12, which take place at Miami.