December 10, 2011

Matakevich Jumps Into Orbit: Leads Track & Field Teams in the Harvard Open

(Cambridge, MA) - The Sacred Heart University track and field teams ventured to Cambridge, MA on Saturday to compete in the Harvard University Open.  The meet, which featured more than 25 schools, had no team scoring.  The Pioneers won eight of the 30 events contested, four more than any other team, and also recorded five ECAC/IC4A qualifying performances, and 14 New England qualifying performances.

Senior captain Ashley Matakevich led the charge, breaking her own school records in the long jump and triple jump, and qualifying for the ECAC Championship in both events. 

Matakevich opened up her day by winning the long jump by more than a foot with a school record leap of 19' ¾".  She set the previous school record six days earlier in the CTC Relay Carnival with a mark of 18' 5 ¼".  The Stratford native had a tremendous series, as all six of her jumps were at 18' 2 ½" or further.  She broke her school record once on her fifth attempt, before smashing it again and going over the 19 foot barrier on her sixth and final attempt.  Matakevich qualified for the ECAC Championships for the first time in her career as she sailed past the qualifying standard of 18' 8 ¼".  She currently leads the Northeast Conference (NEC) in the event, along with ranking 1st in New England, 5th in the ECAC, and 13th in all of Division One.  Matakevich's younger teammates Joselyn Henry (17' 4") and Dylan Baker (17' 2") also jumped well, placing 4th and 5th, respectively, in the competition.    

Later in the afternoon, Matakevich continued her career day by improving on her own triple jump school record four times.  Just six days earlier, in the CTC Relays, Matakevich had set a new school record in the triple jump of 38' ¾".  The senior wasted no time, breaking her own team standard on her first attempt by jumping 38' 2 ¾".  Her second attempt of 38' 7 ¾" was another big improvement.  Securely in the finals of the event, she wasn't done.  Matakevich opened up the finals by breaking the record again, bounding 38' 9 ¾" on her fourth attempt of the competition.  On her fifth attempt, Matakevich put a punctuation mark on the proceedings by breaking the record again with a huge jump of 39' 4 ½".  It took four school record leaps but she finally cracked the ECAC qualifying standard of 39 ½" with that fifth jump.  Matakevich placed second to Olivia Weeks of Harvard in a stacked field, as the top three finishers each topped the ECAC standard.  Matakevich currently leads the NEC in the triple jump by a whopping 2 feet and eight inches.  She also ranks 2nd in New England, 7th in the ECAC, and 18th in all of Division One. 

Commenting on Matakevich's day, head coach Christian Morrison stated, "I'm so proud of Ashley, and feel so fortunate to have her in our program.  I love her dedication and positive personality.  She is very deserving of her success."  Matakevich's event coach, assistant Kenny Franklin added, "Her improvement over the past four years is truly a success story.  One that doesn't come from my coaching, but from her willingness to be open to change, and from her tenacity to strive for technical perfection."

On the men's side of the ledger, Bertony Jean-Louis, another local product, headlined.  The Norwalk, CT native took home individual honors in the 60 meter hurdles with a winning performance of 7.92 seconds, leading teammate Jeremy Rosado across the finish line.  Rosado clocked 8.23 to place 2nd, as both members of the dynamic duo surpassed the IC4A standard of 8.25.  While Jean-Louis didn't quite reach his own school record of 7.79, he did finish under his own NEC Championship record of 7.98.  The senior captain currently ranks first in both the NEC and in New England, while Rosado sits second in both rankings.  Jean-Louis also ranks 2nd in the IC4A and 6th in all of Division One.

Senior captain Athalia Smith qualified for the ECAC Championships, as well, in the weight throw, extending her Northeast Conference lead with a big mark of 58' 1 ¼".  She easily surpassed the ECAC standard of 52' 6" while placing fourth in a loaded field.  Twin sister Chantaul Smith, who qualified for the ECAC's a week ago, came close with her 6th place mark of 52' 1", and sophomore Kolbi Smith placed 7th with a fling of 51' 1".  All three athletes are automatically qualified for the New England Championships.  The trio ranks 1st, 3rd and 4th, respectively, in the NEC, while Athalia Smith ranks 4th in New England, 4th in the ECAC and 22nd in all of Division One.  

 The women further flexed their collective muscle in the shot put, as sophomore Lindsay Aponte topped a field of 26 with a season's best mark of 44' 1 ½".  Aponte missed the ECAC standard by just 2 ¼ inches, while easily surpassing the automatic New England standard of 41' ¼".  Backing up Aponte, Kolbi Smith placed 4th with a 40' 9" toss, while Chantaul Smith placed 6th (37' 8 ¾") and Athalia Smith placed 7th (37' 7 ¾").  Aponte currently sits 3rd in both the NEC and New England rankings.

On the men's side junior Scott Polis cleared a personal best of 14' 11 ¼" to emerge as the collegiate winner of the pole vault.  Polis not only automatically qualified for the New England's, but he also took over the NEC lead in the event.  In addition, he currently ranks 2nd in New England. 

The men's squad picked up another win in the high jump, as sophomore Drayke Jackson flopped over the bar at a New England qualifying height of 6' 6 ¾".  Jackson is undefeated thus far this season, and continues to lead the NEC, while ranking 3rd in New England.  Jackson also added a 10th place finish in the triple jump, bounding 44' 4" to rank 9th in the NEC.      

Freshman Ashia Wright emerged victorious in the 60 meter dash over a field of 80 entrants, with a New England qualifying clocking of 7.78 seconds.  Wright, who has not been beaten in the dash this season, missed the ECAC standard of 7.68 by a mere tenth of a second.  Wright currently ranks 2nd in the NEC and 3rd in New England.  The rookie went on to place 4th in the 200 meter dash later in the meet with a solid early season time of 26.28 seconds. 

The Pioneer's eighth and final win of the day came in the men's 4 x 440 yard relay (Harvard's Gordon Track is one of the few remaining indoor tracks in the country that hasn't been converted to meters).  The quartet of Jean-Louis, sophomore Patrick Peterson, and freshmen Warner Cooley and Gregory Hazell clocked 3:24.62 for the victory.  The relay also automatically qualified for the New England's, and took over 2nd place in the NEC rankings.

Freshman Sarah Bell lowered her personal best in the 60 meter hurdle preliminaries from 9.36 seconds, all the way down 9.10.  She easily surpassed the New England qualifying standard of 9.46, before going on to place 4th in the finals with a 9.25 finish.  She currently ranks 5th in the NEC and 12th in New England.

Sophomore Katelyn Racanelli also automatically qualified for the New England's while placing 5th in the 400 meters.  Her 59.31 clocking ranks her 5th in the NEC and 8th in New England. 

In the men's 3000 meters, senior captains Jeffrey Lusignan (8:37.49), and Richard Marcello (8:38.07) placed 2nd and 3rd, respectively in a field of 48 runners.  The duo took over the top two spots in the NEC rankings with their fast early season times.  Junior Christopher Connelly also ran well placing 6th with a clocking 8:45.00 to move to 5th on the NEC performance list.

Some strong early season performances were likewise had in the women's 3000 meters.  Juniors Alyssa Selmquist (6th in 10:32.98) and Michelle Navarro (7th in 10:42.18) each recorded personal bests, followed by sophomore Teresa Gagliostro (9th in 10:50.31), and freshman Elizabeth Hutchins (11th in 10:51.75).  Hutchins also recorded a personal best, as the quartet moved to 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th, respectively, in the NEC rankings. 

Freshman Emma Bolduc had a good day as well, placing 4th in the Mile run with a 5:18.24 clocking, and following it up with a 12th place finish in the 800 meters in 2:25.24.  Bolduc currently ranks 3rd in the NEC in the Mile, and 7th in the 800 meters. 

The women rounded out their day with a 2nd place finish in the 4 x 440 yard relay.  The foursome of freshman Nicolette Sands, senior Karlie Dean, freshman Shay Cronin, and Racanelli crossed the line in 4:06.65. 

Other notable performances for the men included:             

Weight Throw – Mark Conklin (9th – 48' ¾") and Marc Troiani (10th – 47' 3")

60 Meter Dash – Kevin Eckel (11th in 7.14 seconds)

Shot Put – Philip Miccio (7th – 46' 5 ½") and Marc Troiani (8th – 46' ½")

200 Meter Dash – Matthew Lyhne (6th in 22.84) and Warner Cooley (9th in 22.99)

Long Jump – Gregory Hazell (10th – 21' 4 ¾") 

 "We're feeling very good about things heading into the winter break," stated Morrison.  "Both teams have performed extremely well in our first two meets, so we're real excited about our prospects for a banner season."  After a few weeks break, the men and women compete next in the Carleton Crowell Open on January 6-7 at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, NY.