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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

July 20, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Sports

Blue and Gold win first ECAC title

The men’s indoor track team capped off its season with a surprising victory — winning the program’s first Eastern College Athletic Conference championship title.
“It was really funny because we didn’t go into the meet thinking we had any chance,” junior sprinter Max Orenstein said. “Afterwards, [Head] Coach [Jim] Nichols was like, ‘well, that’s the biggest surprise I’ve ever been a part of, I didn’t think that was going to happen in a million years,’ I don’t remember exactly but it was something like that. So it was cool and surprising, actually, very surprising.”
After a third place at the New York State Collegiate Track Conference Championships, two weeks prior to ECACs, the team — who had had its sights set on winning states, after being crowned champions outdoors last season — had to refocus for ECACs.
“After we didn’t win, which was out goal,” junior long jumper Kyle Devins said. “It seems like there was kind of a release, almost like, ‘oh OK, we didn’t win, now ECACs. We get to compete, just relax and have fun,’ I don’t think anyone expected to win and then all of a sudden we were in first and we were like, ‘lets keep this up.’”
One standout aspect of the team this season has been the immediate scoring contributions of the freshmen class. As multiple athletes battled through injuries over the course of the season, the underclassmen were able to step up and do their part to support the team, even pushing the upperclassmen to perform better.
“[Freshman] Jeff [Willis] can in as a high level jumper,” senior pole vaulter Andrew Brown said. “It’s been back and forth all season, and luckily I was able to keep my record. Really any day he [Willis] could have jumped higher than me. So it’s been really good to have that competition all season.”
Injuries to several members of the team during the season might have had an effect on the outcome of some of the meets down the line for the Bombers, and Devins, who missed ECACs due to a hamstring injury, as well as not being able to compete at the NCAAs after qualifying, said an injury prevention program could definitely benefit the team.
“There’s always stuff you can chance looking back,” Devins said. “Earlier in the year, because we did have so many injuries, maybe doing some sort of injury prevention program. Next year the seniors and I are going to work on that and try to keep everyone healthy so that they can compete throughout the season.”
With the team is starting to make the shift to the outdoors, everyone is staying optimistic about the spring season, while acknowledging that this year’s indoor success could and will carry over to next season’s squad.
“Right now I’m really excited for outdoor,” Orenstein said. “We’re healthy and we’re going to be really really good. I mean, coach Nichols is already talking about national championships, and I don’t want to talk about that, that’s ridiculous if we could to that.
With the graduation of this year’s senior class, the team will have to absorb the departure of several decorated seniors, which includes Brown. As far as it being the seniors last season, Brown said he’s excited to see what the team is capable of, in what will be his final collegiate season.
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” Brown said. “I’m really excited for my team and really I mean, winning ECACs is very surprising and I’m happy that we did it especially since it was the first time ever we had won it, that was great. But really I’m extremely excited for outdoors … it’s going to be a great season.”
As the team begins training for the outdoor season — as reigning state champions — each athlete continues to see their hard work pay off come championship season, which is something Devins said mentally prepares the team.
“That’s one of them,” Devins said. “Everyone’s staying focused and working hard throughout the season definitely paid off at the end. That does wonders for everyone mentally knowing that their work paid off.”