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Manhattan Indoor Track and Field Teams Already Providing Much to Discuss

Manhattan College’s track and field teams opened up their 2017-2018 indoor campaign with a bang on Dec. 1 and since then have already had a record-breaking jump, some qualifying marks, a couple of MAAC Performers of the Week, a lot of personal bests and plenty of first place finishes in events.

“I’m liking what I’m seeing,” said head coach Kerri Gallagher. “Everybody seems positive on the team, it’s just a good atmosphere and it’s just really really positive.”

The team saw two of their members record personal bests and others qualify for the Metropolitan Indoor Championships in the season opener.

While day one of the opener was impressive, day two was record-breaking as Brenton Foster broke the school record for the high jump with a 2.24-meter jump. Foster’s jump bested Mohamed Koita’s 2.20-meter jump set in Feb. 2014 and earned him the honor of MAAC Field Performer of the Week.

While the field events took center stage in the opener, Paige Chapman made some noise on the track with a 7.4 second 60-meter run which won her first place and put her .09 seconds behind Sophia Tasker’s school record set in 1997.

Chapman is no amatuer when it comes to the 60-meter run. Last season she grabbed first place in the event at the MAAC Indoor Championships, Metropolitan Indoor Championships ECAC Indoor Championships.

“Keeping my eye on the prize, I definitely want to repeat and better what I did last year with the ECACs, MAACs, and Metropolitan Championships,” said Chapman.

It was the runners’ time to shine on Dec. 9 at the Yale Invitational. Lisa Fajardo won the mile, John Dove won the 3,000-meter run, and Christian McLaughlin won the 5K. Fajardo’s mile time was a personal-best 5:01.39 and came without much recent experience in the event.

“The mile’s not really my event anymore like it was in high school so it was kinda like a rust-buster kind of meet just to get the legs moving,” said Fajardo. “So I was kind of surprised with how well I ran because that was a pretty big jump from my previous P.R. which was like 5:07.”

“So yeah I was so happy with that time. We were only a couple of seconds off the ECAC standards so it was kind of bittersweet, but that was a really exciting race.”

However, it was Dove’s performance which led the way at the meet as his time of 8:28.84 in the 3,000 meters was both a personal best and the best in the MAAC for the event up to that point in the season.

His effort landed him MAAC Indoor Track Performer of the Week,  just a week after Foster was awarded the field title.

After a few weeks off, Manhattan got back to work on Jan. 12 at the Mike Massone Invitational at Fordham University. Alexandra Preckajlo, Lasma Padedze and Cheyenne Lewis swept the women’s shot put. The women’s team also claimed the top spot in the weight throw, long jump and 5,000 meters, while the men’s team took first in the shot put, weight throw and high jump.

Fajardo was the runner to claim first place in the 5,000 meters and she did so comfortably, having just about a 52-second lead over her nearest competition.

“I ran steady pretty much the whole race,” said Fajardo. “There were only two other girls in the race so we just didn’t really worry about them too much. Their goal was also just to get the standard. Pretty much worked out perfectly. Just ran what my coach said to do.”

Coach Gallagher wanted Fajardo to focus on getting the ECAC qualifying time of 17:28 in the race. Fajardo did her one better by having a time of 17:10.51 instead.

“So basically I told her, ‘Let’s run the qualifying time pace for two miles and then you can do whatever you want in the last mile,’” said Gallagher. “So she ran a very control, a very even first two miles of that race and then ran a very very strong and impressive last mile.”

“What that race tells me is that once she’s in a race with competitors, with points on the line and she’s contending for a big win, I think there’s a lot more in the tank for her.”

A day after the Mike Massone Invitational, the Jaspers returned to New Haven, Connecticut for the Yale Invitational.

Manhattan took first place in the women’s 60-meter, 200-meter, 400-meter, 500-meter, 800-meter and 4×400 relay as well as the men’s 3,000-meter and 4×400 relay.

Chapman was the runner who claimed first in both the 60-meter and 200-meter with times of 7.65 and 25.55, respectively. Those times provided her with a sense of relief that her hard work was paying off.

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Paige Chapman won first place with a 7.4 second 60-meter, putting her .09 seconds behind Sophia Tasker’s 1997 record. GoJaspers/Courtesy

“Relief, definitely relief,” said Chapman in regards to how she felt after the two first-place finishes. “Trusting the process, trusting what my coach is putting me through and then seeing the end result is very relieving. Kind of knowing that we are on track and less worry is always good.”

She also viewed her performance on Jan. 13 as a source of momentum going into the Penn 8 Team Select meet that was held on Jan. 20.

“Now all the nerves are really gone I feel like now it’s changed into excitement so I hope that feeling carries out for the rest of the season,” said Chapman.

There has already been a lot to discuss about the men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams from the first six meets of the 2017-2018 season, but the expectation is that there will be even more to talk about in the coming weeks.

“I just think over the next couple weeks you’re going to see a lot of good things across the board, so don’t be too surprised,” said Gallagher.

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