'On Track' for A Successful Season

Courtesy: Rider Sports Information
Release: December 05, 2013
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La’tazah Coleman
Courtesy: Peter G. Borg (Rider University)

College Indoor Track & Field
Rider ‘On Track’ For a Successful Indoor Season

LAWRENCEVILLE—Led by 56 returning letterwinners, the 2013-14 Rider University indoor track and field season looks to be ‘on track’ for another successful season.

After finishing runner-up during the indoor season in 2012-13, both the Rider men’s and women’s teams won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship during the spring of 2013 and the Broncs are looking to maintain the championship caliber squad that has re-written the Rider record book over the last several seasons.

The men’s sprints/hurdles will be led by seniors Wilvenson Baptiste (Irvington), Matthew Millemann (Hillsborough) and Joseph Carlin (Staten Island, N.Y./Staten Island Tech.). 

Baptiste is coming off Performer of the Meet honors at the Outdoor MAAC Championship Meet and has won the last three, 200 meter championships in the conference. 

Millemann is the top returning hurdler in the MAAC. 

“We expect all three of them to have tremendous senior years,” assistant coach Brett Harvey said.  “Carlin gives us great leadership and was third in the 800 meters during the outdoor season last year.”

According to Harvey, sophomore Darien Edwards (South Orange/St. Benedict's) is also expected to have a successful season. 

Freshmen to watch are Lamont Higgins (New Brunswick/St. Joseph HS (Metuchen)), who will compete in the 200 and 400 meter and Wilfred Asamoah (Edison) and Devon Jefferson (Franklin Park/Franklin). 

“Asamoah and Jefferson are both hurdlers who we look to fill the shoes of Rider graduates David Hightower and James Burroughs,” Harvey said.  Junior Anthony DeFranco (Berkeley Heights/Governor Livingston) is also one of the top returning sprinters in the conference and made huge steps forward last year as a sophomore.”

For the men’s team in the field events (jumps), Rider looks for another breakout season from senior Steven Brown (Penns Grove) and DeFranco who also competes in the pole vault.  “Brown broke the Rider triple jump record last season and is always a threat in both long jump and the triple jump,” Harvey said.  “DeFranco was third in the pole vault during the outdoor season as a sophomore.”

Freshman Kyle Bryant (Cherry Hill/Cherry Hill HS East) looks to be a big addition in the long, triple and high jumps.  “Kyle jumped 6'7" in the high jump in high school,” Harvey said.  “Also Erik Adamcik (Hampton/North Hunterdon) is a freshman pole vaulter that has also looked very good and junior transfer David Prater (Columbus/Northern Burlington Regional) is in tremendous shape and looks poised to have a breakthrough year.”

In the men’s throwing events, junior George Solujich (East Windsor/Notre Dame) and sophomore Charles Wilks (Secane, Pa./Cardinal O'Hara) are expected to be major contenders in the conference in the shot put. 

“Solujich is the defending MAAC champion,” Harvey added.

The men’s distance corps will be lead by a group of upperclassmen including junior standouts Anthony Dentino (Sewell/Washington Township) and Nasser Zayer (Staten Island, N.Y./St. Peter's).   Dentino was fourth in the indoor 5k and second in the outdoor 10k a year ago.  Zayer placed fourth in the outdoor 1500m and lead off the conference record 4x800 last spring.

Senior Corey O'Neill (Old Bridge), juniors Dylan Hallahan (Wrightstown/Northern Burlington Regional) and Evan Cornell (Toms River/Toms River HS East), sophomores Tom McLaughlin (Egg Harbor Twp.) and John and Sam Knipper (Randolph) and freshmen Salman Khalid (Galloway/Absegami), Bradley Kaufmann (East Meadow, N.Y./East Meadow) and John Jackson (Roselle/Magnet) should all feature prominently.

“Hallahan and O'Neill were both scorers in the outdoor steeplechase a year ago and look to translate that success on the flat oval this indoor season,” Harvey said.  “Cornell is coming off a great cross country season while McLaughlin will look to improve on the form that saw him anchor the Broncs to a conference record in the 4x800 last spring.  Sam Knipper was fifth in the 1500 meter at last year's outdoor championships, while twin brother John took the same spot in the steeplechase.”

“Khalid had one of the more impressive rookie cross country seasons in memory, earning All-MAAC Honors and running most of the season as the Broncs number two runner,” Harvey added.  “Kaufman brings impressive high school credentials to the table, notably a 9:31 steeplechase mark and Jackson had a great senior year including an impressive 1:55 time in the 800 meter.”

A trio of upperclassmen, junior Andrew Pozo (Forked River/Toms River HS South), junior transfer Joe Vicini (Millstone/Notre Dame) and senior George Osti (Union) should be major contenders in the weight throw. 

“I’m expecting a big season from those three,” Harvey said about the weight throwers.  “They finished 3-5-6 last year in the MAAC.”

The women’s sprints/hurdles are led by sophomore La'tazah Coleman (Middletown, Del/Appoquinimink) who holds Rider indoor records in the 55, 60 and 200 meter events and was part of the record setting 4x200 meter relay team.  

“Coleman returns after a dominant freshman campaign that saw her finish as MAAC Champion (outdoors) in the 100m, 200m and 4x100,” Harvey said.  “She was also second in the high jump.  During the indoor season, she was MAAC runner-up in the 60m and 200m and broke Rider indoor records in both events.  Classmate Dashana Ransome (Irvington) broke the 60h record last year and won the outdoor 100h in a Rider and MAAC record of 14.09.  She also broke the indoor and outdoor Rider long jump records.  Between the two of them they could win as many as five individual MAAC Indoor titles.”

Junior Ashley Edwards (Westfield) is expected to take on a major leadership role. 

“Ashley was third in the conference 400m indoors last year,” Harvey said.  “She will also be a major relay leg for the team.”

Rider is also expecting significant contributions from sophomores Daria Chadwick (Summit), Madeline Hummel (Marlton/Holy Cross), Nicole Georgia (Lincoln Park/Boonton), Miranda Roberts (Sewell/Washington Twp.) and Johanna Blume (Newtown, Pa./Pennsbury). 

“Chadwick was a finalist in the 60h last year while Hummel broke the Rider 800m record and finished third in the MAAC,” Harvey said.  “Georgia scored in the 400 meter as a freshman and Roberts scored in the 60 meter dash.  Blume has been the most improved runner for the whole team this fall and looks like a major contributor.”

Freshman Juliann Brand (Egg Harbor) should be an immediate threat in the 400 and 800 meter events.

“All of the ladies had a great fall of training and all look better than they did a year ago at this time.  We are very excited about them,” Harvey added. 

In the field events (jumps) for the women, Rider is led by senior Lauryn Strebeck (Dayton/South Brunswick), who has won two straight MAAC Outdoor triple jump titles and was second in the conference during the indoor season. 

“Strebeck is in the best shape of her career,” Harvey said.  “Chadwick is the defending MAAC high jump indoor champion while junior Taylor Harmon (Robbinsville) is the defending outdoor champion.  Roberts broke both the indoor and outdoor Rider pole vault records a year ago and sophomore Olivia Rosenberger (North Wales, Pa./Gwynedd Mercy Academy) looks like a major threat in both the triple and long jumps.   Fellow sophomore Ransome broke both Rider long jump record last year as well and freshman Christine Charles (Scotch Plains/Scotch Plains Fanwood) has also looked great this fall, making this a very formidable group.”

In the women’s throwing events, Rider expects that seniors Rhea Phipps (Basking Ridge/Ridge) and Treasure Burke (Pennsauken/Camden Catholic) will lead the way. 

“Small but mighty,” Harvey used to describe Burke and Phipps.  “Last year they were second and fourth in the conference weight throw.  Sophomore Andy McKenna (Parlin/St. John Vianney) has had a great fall and freshman Chinwe Igwe (West Orange) has also looked tremendous.  We expect sophomore Alicia Carthan (Bordentown) back by January or February as well.  She will be extremely important for the second half of indoor season.”

The women’s distance group is led by graduate student Megan Elgin (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks East), junior Emily Ritter (Millsboro, Del./Sussex Tech) and sophomore Nicolette Mateescu (Kendall Park/South Brunswick). 

“Elgin set the Rider 3k record last year and finished third in the indoor conference 5,000m as well,” Harvey said.  “Ritter had an unbelievable sophomore year that included a conference runner-up in the mile as well as breaking the Rider record with time of 4:50.01 that earned her a fourth place at the ECAC Championships and All-East honors.  She also broke the outdoor 1500 meter Rider record and finished third in the event at the MAAC Championships.”

Elgin and Ritter teamed up with junior Ashley Edwards (Westfield) and sophomore Madeline Hummel (Marlton/Holy Cross) to also break both the indoor and outdoor Rider records in the distance medley.  That group also helped lead the Broncs to an ECAC final in the outdoor 4x800 with Hummel and Rider graduate Paige McAtee.

“Mateescu had a tremendous cross country season including an All-MAAC finish of eighth at the MAAC Cross Country Championships,” said Harvey.  “We expect her to contribute big points in the 5k and 10k this year.”

Others distance runners to watch include sophomore Stephanie Welte (Philadelphia, Pa./St. Basil's Academy), junior Josephine Boyle (Pleasant Valley, N.Y./Arlington) and freshman Megan McGarrity (Philadelphia, Pa./Saint Basil Academy).

Rider opens the season on December 7 when the Broncs travel Route 206 to participate in the New Year’s Invitational, hosted by Princeton University.

“The track and field team is excited to kick off a new season at Princeton,” said head coach Bob Hamer who was voted both the men’s and women’s MAAC Outdoor Coach of the Year in 2013.  “We have been preparing in earnest and the athletes are very anxious to compete.  We had a lot of success last year with both teams winning the outdoor MAAC Championships and we look to continue a tradition of excellence.”

The bulk of the indoor competition is during the month of January when Rider competes at Army on January 11 (with Monmouth and Lehigh), the NYU Shootout at the Armory in New York on January 18 and the Boston University Terrier Invitational January 24-25.

Rider hosts the TCNJ Dual at Lawrenceville Prep on February 1, followed by the New Balance Collegiate games February 7-8 at the Armory, the Rider/Lafayette Winter Games, also at the Armory on February 14 with the MAAC Championship at the Armory on February 21.

“The MAAC will be much improved with the addition of Monmouth and Quinnipiac and also with Niagara adding women's track and field this year,” said Hamer.  “It will definitely change the dynamic and give the MAAC a new look. This is a group of teams that is becoming a very good track and field conference and we are excited to compete in such a competitive environment.”

The winter season wraps up with the IC4A/ECAC Championships in Boston, March 7-9.

The NCAA Championships are in Albuquerque, New Mexico, March 14-15.

The Rider University track and field teams, ‘on track’ for another run at a conference championship.


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