As AEast championships approach, track and field must “dial-in”

Not only are the men and women’s basketball and hockey teams finding success as the spring season approaches, but the men and women’s track and field teams have shown that they can compete at an elite level as well.

Both teams find themselves in good positions heading into the America East championships after strong showings at meets at the Reebok Classic in Boston over the weekend of Jan. 29 and at Dartmouth last weekend.

“I was very pleased to see the way we did overall, especially without any field event people,” assistant coach Greg Wisser said. “It was interesting to see where people were development-wise.”

Wisser said that the team has a potent blend of talent between the veteran upperclassmen and the young, but skilled, freshmen.

Notable freshmen include Ryan Sleeper, who won the 1,000m with a time of 2:28.66, and Dan Ciabattoni, a jumper who went outside the box and ran in the 55m, finishing in the top 20 overall.

For Ciabattoni, the meet in Boston was particularly thrilling because it presented a  challenge for him that he had never faced.

“[Running the 55m] was really exciting,” Ciabattoni said. “I never ran indoor track before, my high school didn’t have a team.”

As the America East indoor championships approach, the team feels that the past two meets gave a good indication of where they can place.

“You definitely saw both the men’s and women’s distance teams step up,” Wisser said.

“There were first-time runners in certain events, and the meets helped get them ready,” he said.

“With a couple more weeks of development they’re going to have nice conference championships.”

Though the freshmen have shown that they are fully capable of competing in the conference, the seniors for the Catamounts have set the bar high.

In Boston, senior Justin Scricca set a new UVM record in the 200m with a time of 22.26, breaking the old record of 22.29, on his way to a second-place overall finish.

“Everyone did really well. Justin [Scricca] broke the 200 which was really exciting, the distance guys did great, we all performed overall,” Ciabattoni said.

Meanwhile, senior David Hanss finished sixth overall in the 55m hurdles.

The steady guidance of the seniors, as well as the new talented freshmen, could translate into a competitive showing at the championships.

“The coaches are excited.  We have a lot of young talent this year along with some strong senior leaders coming into the championships,” Wisser said.

“It’s coming down to crunch time so everyone is starting to dial in and focus in.”

The Cats will be in action next at the Valentine Invitational in Boston Feb 12.