In two short weeks, the men’s and women’s track teams will compete in the first Centennial Conference Championship meet of the season. Each year, there are two Centennial Conference Championship meets, one at the end of February when the season begins, and one in late April to round out the season.
In last year’s February meet, in which all ten Centennial Conference schools competed, the women finished 6th, while the men finished 8th. However, the Mules will be carrying immense confidence into Lancaster, Pennsylvania on Feb. 29. The squad has had a fantastic season thus far heading into conference play.
Michael Rainone ‘20 has placed top two in Conference play in each of the last three years. In 2017, he placed 1st in the 4x100m outdoor and finished fifth in the same category last year. With all his conference success and experience, Rainone thinks attitude is as important as anything. “I think we have to go out there with a killer mindset and stay positive all the way through. Then, hopefully, we can expect the best,” said Rainone. “I’m just trying to keep a very relaxed mindset because if you get too excited or overwhelmed about the meet, I feel like performance can definitely hinge on that.”
On Jan. 31, both teams competed in New York City against 25 other Division III track and field teams. They combined for 12 top ten finishes, including seven in the jumps. Alana Noehrenberg ‘21 placed first in the high jump, clearing the over 5-foot barrier. She had to win in a one-on-one jump off after her and a runner from Misericordia University tied during their initial attempts. Teammate Emily Mitchell ‘21 was also impressive, placing 7th in the long jump. The women’s track team as a whole finished in the top half at 12th.
The men’s team had quite a successful meet as well. Sam Morgan ‘22 finished second in the 800m and is confident he can produce at the CC championships, but he is not treating it like any other competition. “I want to win. I want to win my event, the 800. For our team [the men], I think we are a top three or four team,” Morgan explained. “It’s just another meet, but it is more important for us teamwise.”
Fellow runner Jason Richwall ‘20 was equally impressive in New York, finishing third in the 3000m. These stellar performances, along with five other top-ten finishes for the men’s team, put them at third place overall. They finished behind only nationally-ranked Johns Hopkins, who the Mules will meet again at the C.C. championships, and another ranked team in Mount Union.
While both teams look fresh and are eager to compete against their conference foes, they each have three meets in the runup to the event. On Feb. 14, the squad travels back to New York, looking for more success at the Fast Track National Invitational. Then the following week, they have meets on back to back days, both away. They will travel to Kutztown on Friday, Feb. 21 and then Haverford the following day. In fact, the Mules do not have a meet at Scotty Wood Stadium until Apr. 4, but Morgan isn’t worried about the heavy schedule. “It’s good to have a racing mentality. Continuing to race is always good.”