Track and Field’s Joe and Decker Honored by the MAAC

By Mack Olmsted, Asst. Production Editor/Asst. Arts and Entertainment Editor

The track season is roaring up for a pivotal part of the year. While the team is gearing up for the MAAC, two student-athletes got MAAC weekly honor titles during the Metropolitan Championships held on Friday, Feb. 3. 

One of the two athletes is graduate student Johnelle Joe for winning the 800m race, finishing the race in 1:53.76 to win by four-tenths of a second against his opponent. Joe has been a part of the program since the fall and is from Wilmington, Delaware, where he began his running career in the seventh grade. He was also a part of the track and field team at the University of Oklahoma. There he competed for three years and then chose to attend Manhattan College. 

Joe explained how he challenged himself internally and also what he believes he improved on over the course of the indoor season.

“It was a very interesting race going in,” Joe said. “I wasn’t really expecting much, just trying to run better than I was starting off the season. I wasn’t doing that well, mentally. I know I was there physically but mentally I wasn’t ready and prepared for myself to compete … I just had to reassess why I’m here and why I want to compete, to be better.” 

Joe also expressed what he hopes the future of the season holds for him and what he hopes to accomplish within the rest of the season.

“Just trying to continue that foundation and progress, get better and hopefully see where I want to be at and yet, hopefully sometime in the next few weeks, maybe we could see a couple more of those runners of the week [awards],” Joe said.

Another student-athlete who was recognized for his accomplishment was junior thrower, RJ Decker. He has been throwing since his junior year of high school and has been improving ever since. In his second year with the program, Decker was recognized for his weight throw. 

According to GoJaspers, Decker took first place in the event, with a best of 20.39 meters which flew clear past the 2.65 meters of second place. This performance meant Decker now owned the best two marks in the weight throw this season, GoJaspers reported. The win scored Decker a IC4A qualifying standard, which Joe had also met in his own event. 

Decker’s goal going in was to help his team succeed, and he explained how he felt going into the Metropolitan Championship. 

“I knew it was gonna be tough to try to come off an intense week and have a little bit more competition,” Decker said. “Going into that was kind of something where I felt like I wanted to help my team get to how we won first place. So it was mostly just me trying to get the win to help my team more or less.”

Decker explained to The Quadrangle what goes through his head before he throws. 

“I’m very optimistic when I go to the meets,” Decker said. “Nothing’s ever guaranteed. For example, last year at Milrose. I was on a great streak and my indoor season and that bill rose hit and I threw six fouls in a row at a competition and then the next week we had backs and I hit my PR that way. That every bit is guaranteed. So I usually go with just trying to relax, stay focused and just do what I know, not try to do anything extra or anything more.”

Decker explained how he felt about winning the weight throw and how he felt about his performance at the Metropolitan Championship overall. 

“It was good,” Decker said. “It was fun. It was nice to go back to Ocean Breeze [the athletic complex] again. I saw a lot of people that I haven’t seen in a while. And it was just a really good intense environment. You know, you have a lot of people cheering you on … I just wanted to chase that feeling, chase some technical cues and I felt really good on the day and was happy with technically how I threw.”

As of now, the team is preparing for the end of the indoor season preparing for the IC4A and the NCAA championships, with the hopes to improve as a team.