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Men’s track and field aims to vault over national competition

From+left%2C+senior+pole+vaulter+Matthew+Weil+and+sophomore+multi-eventer+Noah+McKibben.+Weil+aims+for+a+personal+best%2C+while+McKibben+expands+his+skill+set%2C+competing+in+the+60m+dash+and+110m+hurdles%2C+as+well+as+combined+events+for+the+first+time.
Maddy Tanzman
From left, senior pole vaulter Matthew Weil and sophomore multi-eventer Noah McKibben. Weil aims for a personal best, while McKibben expands his skill set, competing in the 60m dash and 110m hurdles, as well as combined events for the first time.

The Ithaca College men’s track and field team is readying itself for the outdoor track season following a 2023 season where the Bombers sent three runners to the NCAA outdoor track and field championships.

This year, the Bombers’ senior pole vaulter Dominic Mikula, who earned the national pole vault title with a jump of 5.05 meters, will be using his sixth year of COVID-19 eligibility to join the Bombers for one more spring track and field season.

Head coach Jim Nichols, who is in his 37th season with the Bombers, said he thinks Mikula has the potential to go beyond his previous results.

“He’ll be back for outdoor track and field, so for him to improve on being the best in the country, — that’s kind of hard to do — but he’s also jumped 5.13 in the pole vault, so we would like for him to jump 5.14, 5.15, 5.16,” Nichols said. “Whatever place he takes, he takes.” 

Senior pole vaulter Matthew Weil is looking to set a new personal record by clearing a height of 4.45 meters, which would qualify him for the NCAA regionals, where he could earn a spot to the NCAA outdoor championship. 

The Bombers finished 4th at the 2023 Liberty League Championships, a drop from their first place finish in 2022. Nichols said Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the University of Rochester and the Rochester Institute of Technology are likely to be the Bombers’ biggest competition in the league this year, as they came first, second and third in the Liberty League last season. He also said he believes that Williams College and Rowan University will be fielding strong teams in the All-Atlantic Track and Field Conference. 

However, the Bombers have talent both new and old, who Nichols believes have the potential for high individual results. Along with Mikula, other returning students include senior pole vaulter Brendan Sheehan, who placed fourth at the 2023 nationals, senior distance runner Patrick Bierach and junior distance runner James Hughes, who placed 16th in the 8K at the 2023 cross country national championships.

There are also new first-year members of the team, including twin brother sprinters Max and Alex Boreland, along with pole vaulter Cayden Kuhns. 

The indoor season ends in March with the NCAA indoor track and field championships, after which there will be a three-week break from competition until the outdoor season starts. Concerning the transition from indoor to outdoor track, Weil said workout routines change once Liberty League Indoor Championships are over.

“Once we’re done with Liberty Leagues, the people who qualify for regionals and nationals continue to practice while other people start looking to outdoor track,” Weil said. “The workouts change as the running events are longer.” 

Weil also said that even though athletes used this transition period to recuperate, they are still staying in competition form.

“We have this transition month, where some people will taper off and then rest their body because we’ve been working since October and that takes a toll,” Weil said. “That’s five to six months of straight work just for the indoor season, so those few weeks off really helps reset the body and focus on the outdoor season, but we still have that base that we have built up for the past five months.”

This is the first season that sophomore multi-eventer Noah McKibben, who was previously a jumper, is competing in both the 60m dash and 110m hurdles and combined events like the Heptathlon. He said that the support of the coaches is extremely important in his training and for other athletes like him.

“This year, I’ve been a lot more committed to the track and field team and I feel that the coaches have put in the same effort,” McKibben said. “I feel that for any athlete, if they put in the effort, they’re going to receive the same effort from the coaches, because they’ll really care about you if they see that you’re working toward a common goal.”

Leadership and guidance has also come from members of the team, including sophomore hurdler and jumper Matt Lokshin, who was recently voted as a team captain. McKibben said he is a considerate leader and takes other team members’ interests into account.

“It was also great to see how [Lokshin] both grew as an athlete, but also learned to grow as a leader throughout the season so far … and there have been setbacks, obviously, because growth is not always linear, but he has become a very, very good leader and I think a lot of [first-years] look up to him,” McKibben said.

Nichols said that the team always wants to finish first, but success is not only measured by final placings. 

“We want all of our athletes to improve,” Nichols said. “We say, run, jump and throw for fun and personal best. We want them to enjoy their experience and the program with their teammates and the coaches, but we strive for them to improve, and we challenge them to be the best that they can be. … We could be dead last as a team, but we did the best that we could individually.”

Entering his final season for the Bombers, Weil said he wants to make the most of the time he has left. 

“I’ve got nothing to lose,” Weil said. “I’m just going to try and leave it all on the table and see if I can get another personal best.”

The Bombers will start their outdoor season March 30 at the SUNY Geneseo Invitational in Geneseo, New York.

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