The Men’s and Women’s Winter Track teams just took off from the starting line and are not looking back, kicking off their 2017-2018 season at the Lehigh Season Opener on Friday, Dec 1.
Brad Hackett, the Head Coach of the Muhlenberg Track and Field programs, expressed the importance of the new members that joined the two teams.
“We have a quite talented mixture of freshmen and sophomore,” said Hackett. After losing some seniors from last season there were some empty spots that needed to be filled, such as the high jump and long jump positions.
The women’s team was lucky and made great additions by adding high jumper Alana Noehrenberg ’21, as well as long jumpers Emily Mitchell ’21 and Lindsay Press ’21. On the men’s side, a whopping 10 freshmen have joined the team. Expect to see big finishes out of Jeff Alvarez ’21, Greg Shanahan ’21 and Jack Weinberger ’21.
The program likes to be seen as one unit, rather than two separate teams. Coach Hackett believes that the men’s and women’s teams are one big team, since they do everything together: they practice together, they lift together and they work together. Although the men’s and women’s teams also do not compete together, they attend competitions together and are each other’s biggest fans.
The program is coming off a successful 2016-17 winter and spring seasons.
“At the National level, last year we had about as good of a season for as long as I have been here. There were quite a few players who just missed making it to the NCAA Championship,” said Hackett. However, there were others that did make it and having a record six All-Americans in one season was a big accomplishment for track.
We have a talented enough team for the men’s and women’s to place in the top four in the conference, but ultimately we are not quite deep enough yet to win the Conference Championship. – Brad Hackett
Essentially, the winter and spring seasons are just one big season. The two teams do not train and prepare any differently, besides from the fact that one season is indoors and one is outdoors in the warm weather. The winter season starts in late October and goes until around spring break. The players get a couple of weeks off and then move right outdoors where their spring season begins.
The teams’ main focuses for this upcoming season is to get as many players as possible to the NCAA Championship for both indoor and outdoor track. The NCAA takes 15 men and 17 women from indoor track to the NCAA Championship and 21 men and 23 women from outdoor track. There are five athletes who ranked in the top 50 from last year’s season in the entire country.
“We have a talented enough team for the men’s and women’s to place in the top four in the conference, but ultimately we are not quite deep enough yet to win the Conference Championship,” stated Hackett.
Even if winning the Conference Championship is a difficult task to complete, the team has very high aspirations this year to get as many members as possible to the NCAA Championship.
The freshmen may bring big results to the table this season, but let us not forget about the sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have had a great deal of success in the past. Students who had significant seasons last year were Anthony Ware ’18, who just missed making it to the Indoor NCAA Championship for the 60. Jess Voltaggio ’18 and Michael Havkins ’18 with their throwing abilities. Anthony Calantoni ’18, who did in fact make it to the Indoor NCAA Championship. Distant runner Jamie Pacilio ’18, who is focused once again on making it to the NCAA Championship. Runners Anthony Calantoni ‘18, Mike Bessette ’19, and Corey Mullins ’19 return after accomplishing being All-Americans in the distance medley relay.
The big picture for all of the Mules in the track program is obvious, make it as far as possible and beat personal records. These feats will all take athletes putting in great amounts of time and effort t pursue getting better. But the hard work is allowed to be fun, as Coach Hackett expressed. “It beats going to work every day. I have never once woken up in the morning and regretted going to work.”