BY: THERESE KELLY
The Manhattan College track and field teams hosted the Draddy Invitational on Feb. 15, which was described by Coach Pat Slevin as a “last chance meet” before MAAC Championships. Athletes from Manhattan, St. Peter’s and NYU spent the day competing in an array of events, taking advantage of the meet to fine tune their skills or notch a qualifying standard before the MAAC Indoor Championships on Feb. 21.
The Draddy Invitational was highlighted by Manhattan victories in many events, and included national rankings set by high jumpers Mohamed Koita (ranked seventh in the nation by jumping 2.20 meters) and Ida Virdebrant (ranked 16th in the nation by jumping 1.80 meters).
Rokas Kirlys placed first in the men’s shot put with a distance of 16 meters, surpassing St. Peter’s by more than 1.5 meters.
Lina Bengtson finished first in the women’s shot put and commented that while the distance she threw was about a meter under her personal best, she was hopeful it would be improved come championship time.
Blerim Pocesta placed second overall in the men’s weight throw by implementing his “rotation and step technique” to send the 35 pound weight 17.99 meters.
The men’s long jump and triple jump saw victories by Hayden Clarke, who placed first in the long jump with a distance of 6.92 meters, and Trevell Moxey, whose distance of 14.60 meters was first in the triple jump.
Moxey described his use of the double arm technique, as well as his method of beginning on his left foot and landing on his right foot before jumping into the sand pit. Neil Pinnock, who competed in both events and placed third in the triple jump, noted that strong legs are what carry a jumper’s momentum. He emphasized the importance of speed and power in the jumping events.
Both the men and women’s pole vault competitions included victories for Manhattan, with Marisa Robbins and Justin Farrenkopf clearing the bar by heights of 3.30 meters and 4.65 meters respectively. Maddesen Weekes, who placed second in the pole vault, shared her opinion on her performance.
“This was my best so far this season,” she said. “I needed this one good meet to boost my confidence for MAACs next weekend.”
Weekes described the endurance training that she and her teammates undergo prior to beginning practice on the runway.
“We do bleachers, speed work and weights which help with technique and form.” She commented on the sportsmanship of the other teams and the helpfulness of the officials. “[The other teams] are always there to catch a step, lend a pole, and cheer one another on. The officials are great and are always willing to work with you.”
Those competing in the track events focused on building up their speed in their respective races. The Manhattan men’s team placed first in the 60 and 200 meters dashes, while the women’s team placed first in the 400, 800, and 1500 meters dashes. Slevin said that the meet provided a controlled environment in which those who wanted to improve their race times could do so before championships. When asked about the MAAC championships, Slevin mentioned that with the addition of Monmouth University to the conference, there is now a heightened sense of competition.
The MAAC Indoor Championships will take place Feb. 21st at the Armory Track and Field Center.
“The MAAC is the biggest meet of the year – it’s a team championship that includes everybody,” Slevin said. “It brings the team element into an individual sport, and provides a completely different atmosphere.”