Men’s Track and Field is Back

After two season-long abscences, the men’s track team is back. The program was dropped following the 2001-02 season, and UVM has not sponsored a men’s track and field program since. That is, not until now.

The new addition of the men’s track and field team is part of a plan implemented in March 2004 that is aimed at maintaining academic success while achieving more success for the University on the playing field.

Part of this plan includes realignment of the sports programs, providing more adequate operational assistance to teams to help with their recruiting and travel expenses, strengthening recreational sports opportunities, substantially increasing scholarship support, and eliminating a tier system that previously set different expectations per sport and allocated resources accordingly.

The implementation of this plan means that higher expectations will be set for Vermont student-athletes in the classroom and on the field. In return, the athletic department will strive to support all the programs equally, something that it has had a hard time with in the past. The men’s track and field team was reinstated as a part of the realignment strategy being imlemented on the UVM sports programs.

Also as a result of the new plan, the school will be building a new outdoor track that ought to be complete in sping 2006, another boon for the track and field team. Having the men’s team back has added a whole new dynamic to the track and field program. There are 31 men on the roster, some of whom are seniors who played their freshman year, and have been given this chance to come back for one last year. Many more of the men’s team athletes, however, are new to the track and field team. The women’s team is experiencing some changes as well, apart from the addition of the men’s team. 22 of the 38 women on the roster are new to the program this year, giving it a fresh new dynamic for the new year.

All the changes and new additions to the track and field program could have had positive or negative repercussions on the team’s performance. It seems, however, that the team is doing well with all the changes, improving their performance phenomenally and shaping up for a great season.

Just this past weekend the track team went to the Boston University Invitational, the Terrier Classic, where several members of both the men’s and women’s teams reached the New England Championships qualifying mark. For the men’s team, sophomore Sean Steinhagen placed 7th in the 1,000 meter with a time of 2:29.62, to qualify for both the New England and the IC4A championships.

Senior Carl Savage placed 15th in the men’s weight throw with a mark of 12.87 meters, and the men’s 4×400 relay team placed 14th and got their season best time of 3:26.12, improving by 8 seconds, just 4 seconds off the school record. The women’s team did extremely well, too, with five Catamounts reaching New England Championship qualifying marks. Freshman Channel Hamilton finished 20th in the 200 meter with a time of 25.96, with senior Erin O’Grady, the American East Track Performer of the Week, close behind in 32nd, with a time of 26.34.

Junior Katy Jockson placed 13th in the mile with a time of 5:06.36. Bethany Brodean, a graduate student, placed 9th in the 800-meter with a time of 2:16.45, and freshman Diana Purtz placed 7th in the 1,000 meter with a time of 3:01.13. All these women received a New England championship qualifying mark.

The new and improved track and field program will be competing next at the Dartmouth Invitational on Saturday, February 5 in Hanover, NH.