Wednesday, May 27, 2015

NCAA East Regional: Blue track, blue skies

Random notes from Jacksonville Beach:

--Kudos to Sacred Heart track coach and good friend Christian Morrison for recommending that we stay at this Courtyard Marriott in Jacksonville Beach. It’s right on the water, which is beautiful. It’s extremely convenient to everything we need. And it’s only about 10 miles from the track.
--Speaking of the track: It’s blue. Like, Drake University in Des Moines blue. Hodges Stadium seems to be a great venue for such a big meet, and it has hosted this Regional Championship the past two years (it’s our first time here, though). They have plenty of parking (more on that next), plenty of on-campus amenities within a short walk, and a three-lane “practice track” for an athlete warm-up area.
--Oh yeah. Parking. At our coaches meeting this afternoon, it was noted that the University of North Florida would be hosting five (5? 5!) graduation ceremonies this weekend. Maybe I heard that wrong. The coaches’ meeting was very crowded and standing room only. But I think I heard something to that effect. So while it seems like there is ample parking for the meet, there may not be ample parking for the meet.
--Jacksonville in the end of May. You’re thinking, really hot and humid, right? Well, it’s hot. But it’s not all that humid. In fact! It’s not a whole lot different than the weather we left behind in New York. So, that’s a good thing.
--As we were driving to the track earlier today, we saw a big sign (and store) that said PET SUPERMARKET. Wow. Really? For those keeping score at home, we opted for Publix, a human supermarket, across the street.

NCAA East Regional: Preview video on

Check out this link to an excellent preview video of Michelle Gaye's participation in the NCAA East Regional here at Jacksonville. Thanks to Mike Ferraro and his staff for the excellent promotion of our team and all of Marist Athletics.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

NCAA East Regionals: Reach the beach

Here are a few views from our hotel in Jacksonville Beach, Fla. The little speck near the water is Michelle Gaye going out for a shakeout run after our flight here from JFK. We have reached the beach.

Nicely done! Academic honors for Michelle, Vuono and Tino

Check out this link to the press release about major academic honors for Michelle Gaye, Mark Vuono and Mark Valentino. They have represented our program so well for so long -- in the classroom and on the track. Nicely done.

What's next: NCAA Regionals

We leave today for Jacksonville for the NCAA East Regional meet at the University of North Florida. Michelle Gaye will be racing in the 10,000-meter run on Thursday at 9 p.m. This race is the national semifinal, with the top 12 from the East Regional and the top 12 from the West Regional advancing to the national final at the NCAA Championships in two weeks in Oregon. FYI, Michelle is listed as a junior because she did not race (redshirt) two springs ago due to injury. Although we wish we could have her back for one more year, this is her final season of competition at Marist. Look for more posts and updates from the beach for the rest of the week. Here is the declared entry list in order of seed time from the 2015 outdoor season.

1  Chelsea Blaase                SO Tennessee          32:28.39
  2  Margo Malone                  JR Syracuse           32:29.89
  3  Joanna Thompson               SR NC State           33:07.27
  4  Caroline Kellner              JR Cornell            33:32.07
  5  Bethany Sachtleben            SR George Mason       33:32.53
  6  Molly Seidel                  JR Notre Dame         33:39.70
  7  Katie Gillespie               SR West Virginia      33:45.56
  8  Sinead Haughey                SR Furman             33:53.34
  9  Melanie Brender               SR Michigan State     33:53.49
 10  Amanda Behnke                 SO Indiana            33:59.60
 11  Alexis Wiersma                SO Michigan State     34:00.23
 12  Emily Stites                  JR William and Mary   34:03.43
 13  Abbey Kelto                   SR Cen Michigan       34:06.81
 14  Megan Curham                  SO Princeton          34:07.08
 15  Maura Linde                   JR Syracuse           34:12.00
 16  Jessie Petersen               SR Syracuse           34:18.63
 17  Michelle Gaye                 JR Marist             34:20.07
 18  Brooke Tullis                 JR Toledo             34:21.19
 19  Tristin Van Ord               SO Appalachian St     34:23.08
 20  Dylan Hassett                 SR William and Mary   34:26.95
 21  Mara Olson                    SR Butler             34:27.01
 22  Sakiko Minagawa               JR Ohio State         34:27.31
 23  Emily Durgin                  SO Connecticut        34:30.49
 24  Laura Nagel                   SR Providence         34:33.15
 25  Letitia Saayman               SR Coastal Carolina   34:33.85
 26  Gina Sereno                   SO Michigan           34:34.75
 27  Minori Minagawa               JR Ohio State         34:34.82
 28  Erin Osment                   SR Davidson           34:36.74
 29  Ednah Kurgat                  FR Liberty            34:38.75
 30  Madeline Perez                FR Georgetown         34:39.71
 31  Claudia Pham                  SR Dartmouth          34:40.55
 32  Kathleen Darling              JR Wake Forest        34:42.32
 33  Katie Townsend                SR Georgia Tech       34:43.47
 34  Jessie Rubin                  SR Duke               34:44.09
 35  Shaylyn Tuite                 JR Syracuse           34:44.12
 36  Eden Meyer                    FR North Florida      34:47.11
 37  Melissa Fairey                SO Georgia Tech       34:48.56
 38  Sarah Rapp                    SR Virginia Tech      34:48.96
 39  Elizabeth Hutchins            SR Sacred Heart       34:51.29
 40  Courtney Smith                FR Harvard            34:53.67
 41  Lauren Brasure                FR Florida            34:55.05
 42  Mary Alex England             SO Mississippi        34:56.46
 43  Sarah Fakler                  SO Virginia           34:58.09
 44  Kelly Meyer                   JR Georgia Tech       34:58.38
 45  Nicole Lucas                  SR Indiana State      35:00.00
 46  Cassandra Vince               SO Toledo             35:00.00
 47  Olivia Pratt                  SO Butler             35:02.59
 48  Whitney Thornburg             SR Harvard            35:04.25

Sunday, May 24, 2015

A national champion across town

A hearty congratulations and NICELY DONE to our friends over at Vassar College for the National Championship earned and won by senior Heather Ingraham in the 400-meter dash at the NCAA D3 Championships up at St. Lawrence. Heather was an All-American last year when she finished fourth at nationals, and from the second that race finished last May, she and her coach – Marist Running Alum Justin Harris – have been planning for a run at the very top of the podium in 2015. Most times, the best-laid plans do not always come to complete fruition. This time, they did. Heather had an incredible run during her career at Vassar, and she capped it with a school record and fastest D3 time this year in 53.89 seconds for the 400.

We are happy and proud for Justin, who meticulously guided Heather’s process the whole way, and for head coach James McCowan, who has built a tremendous all-around program at his alma mater, where he was a record-breaking runner in his own right. But mostly, the praise and congrats should always go to the athlete, Heather, who had to spike up and defend her position as top dog in the nation all year, something she did right to the end. National Champion. Good stuff.

Commencement 2015: Saturday ceremony

Perhaps the nicest, most perfect weather for a graduation ceremony yesterday. Sunny, blue skies, perfect temperature, as we bid adieu to yet another special class of students and student-athletes. Many photos were taken, but this is the only one I could access for the purposes of the blog. Fortunately, it is not "goodbye" with these two guys but more like "see you later" as Mark Valentino returns for a full fifth year and Pat Rynkowski returns for the fall 2015/XC season. We are proud of them both, and we are proud of the entire Class of 2015 women's and men's XC and track teams, who walk out the door with so many school records and memories over the past four years. Nicely done.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Commencement 2015: Friday night's ceremony

A breezy and unseasonably chilly early evening for the conferring of the graduate degrees on Friday night, but the setting -- with the brilliant sun over the Hudson River -- was breathtaking. Much better than last year for the Friday ceremony, when we were cooped up in the stuffy McCann Center due to weather issues. Kelley Gould received her hard-earned masters -- she completed her degree requirements while working full-time, coaching modified track and myriad other responsibilities. Ken Walshak will be completing his degree requirements later this summer and he walked last night. We are proud of them both, and we look forward to another nice day today for undergraduate commencement on the Campus Green.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Generations overlap

Two generations of Marist Running greatness overlapped on Thursday afternoon when Liza Grudzinski came to campus to meet up and run with Michelle Gaye. Michelle has broken the records that Liza set many years ago, and the two have formed a special bond over their shared experiences in different decades. We were pleased to see them coordinate their schedules today -- special thanks to Liza and Kirk for making it work with their 15-month-old fireplug of an awesome toddler Emmett coming to campus as well.

Spring Cleaning: A cool story

Sometimes we tend to place emotional attachments to inanimate objects – most notably for some, automobiles. But an air conditioner? I’m not saying I shed a tear over this old, beat-up AC that now has a final resting place in our Dumpster. But this old AC definitely has a unique story in our family lore.

The year was 1999. A special year, as that was when our first child was born. That spring and summer, Heidi was in her later trimesters of pregnancy. The fog of memory recalls only the very hot and stifling moments of that summer. The marathon in Vermont, where the temperature in Burlington on that Memorial Day weekend was warmer than in Miami Beach. At the time, it was my PW (personal worst), but I did finish on a day when the dropout rate was extremely high; you don’t go to Vermont expecting hot and humid weather. Heidi was there, nearly seven months pregnant and miserable in the late spring heat.

Maybe we should get an air conditioner, I said upon returning home. Nah, she said. I’ll be fine. Our old Cape Cod style house does not have central air. Like most Capes, the upstairs bedrooms are like the attic of most houses – very, very warm. We had a ceiling fan and window fans going during that summer of 1999. But some nights, it was so warm that we would have to sleep on the den couch.

Maybe we should get an air conditioner, I repeated a few weeks later. Nah, she said. I’ll be fine. The summer heat persisted. June. July. Her pregnant belly got bigger as the boy grew inside her. Maybe we should get an air conditioner, I said as August loomed. No answer. The fans whirred on the ceiling and in the window. Maybe we should get an …

Finally, she had enough. OK, she said. Get an air conditioner. It’s now the second week of August, of what was a hot and stifling summer. No one’s got air conditioners. I make calls to every hardware store in a 20-mile radius. Finally, I find a store that has an AC. One left. Put my name on it, I say, I’ll be right there. I paid the overpriced tag on it (bargaining power = zero at this point), bring the AC home. You know those energy efficiency rating scales? This one’s off the charts – on the low end! It is not energy efficient. But boy, does it pump out the cold air.

Happy wife = happy life, and a bursting at the seams mom-to-be needs to be cool. Just a few weeks later, the baby is born. A few weeks after that, the chill of autumn comes in, and the AC goes back in the box until next summer. That little bundle of joy now towers over me, a headphone-wearing/dad-ignoring honor student and track athlete who is rapidly becoming a pretty neat adult before our eyes. That old energy inefficient AC moved around our house, room to room as needed, but kept pumping out ice cold air for summer after summer after summer. Until finally, it stopped conditioning the air to our liking. It went from energy inefficient to just plain inefficient. It stopped working. It lived a good, long, electric-bill draining life.

On this Throwback Thursday, we shed no tears for an old and now useless household appliance. But we do recall some fond memories from a loud and rattling machine that has finally run its course.

Spring Cleaning: One for the Thumb

The Dumpster in our driveway is in place, a sign of literal spring cleaning at our house. Heidi is in one of those purge modes, kind of a reset button for home and family. In the process of cleaning out the upstairs office we call the “cold room” (because it has no heat), she came across this long-ago goofy picture of me, taken in France when we were there visiting our good friends back in 1997. I immediately noticed some different things from that era:

1. I’m not wearing a hat;
2. I’m wearing sunglasses;
3. I’m wearing a buttoned shirt;
4. Where's the gray hair?

All things that would be considered oddities for the circa 2015 version of me. Anyway! Facebook has this thing called Throwback Thursday (#TBT), so I guess we can spill that into this blog.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Records are made to be broken. And they were!

Those school record boards in the McCann Center hallway? Uh. Yeah! Gonna have order some new pieces for them, after record-setting indoor and outdoor track seasons. As I was preparing to e-mail the company from which we purchased the board, I realized how many updates will have to be made to that board (with one more possibility for an updated record next week in Florida). This, of course, is GREAT news! So here, as a way to stay organized as well as to revisit some great moments from the previous five or so months, is a list of the updated school records, circa 2015 (with one exception), for the board.

Indoor track, women
60-meter dash: Danielle Asaro, 7.95
200-meter dash: Danielle Asaro, 25.68
Mile run: Kristen Traub, 4:55.31
3,000-meter run: Michelle Gaye, 9:44.48
5,000-meter run: Michelle Gaye, 16:41.89
4x400 relay: Courtney Cartwright, Danisha Craig, Jenn Horner, Molly Weeks, 4:00.60
High jump: Fallon Quigley, 1.57 meters (2014, set in December meet)
Outdoor track, women
1,500-meter run: Kristen Traub, 4:33.95
3,000-meter run: Kristen Traub, 9:56.04
5,000-meter run: Michelle Gaye, 16:33.86
10,000-meter run: Michelle Gaye, 34:20.07
4x400 relay: Courtney Cartwright, Danisha Craig, Molly Weeks, Jenn Horner, 3:58.29
4x800 relay: Jenn Horner, Kristen Traub, Jenna Robinson, Janelle Solviletti, 9:09.91
High jump: Fallon Quigley, 1.57 meters
Outdoor track, men
110-meter hurdles: Hakim Cunningham, 14.66
400-meter hurdles: Hakim Cunningham, 55.62

Monday, May 18, 2015

Brooklyn Half Marathon

Marist Running was well represented on Saturday at the Brooklyn Half Marathon, with the following stellar performances:

--Conor Shelley 1:08:53, 13 overall, 5:16 pace
--Will Griffin 1:09:32, 14 overall, 5:19 pace
--Todd Bivona 1:35:06, personal best time
--Matt Walsh 1:36:50

In addition, our good pal Krys Wasielewski ran 1:42:19 and was 17th in his age group.

Here’s what Conor posted about the race on Facebook: Big day in Brooklyn. Bested my hardest PR, place 13th of 26,400 official finishers (just under 40,000 total), and mixed it up with some athletes I am rarely competing with. All on less than stellar eating and sleeping 72 hours before. Easily my best performance wearing the Winged Foot! So happy to be part of a club that is so supportive! 1:08:53, the smile is more of a delirious reaction than it looks.

Nicely done, Conor and everyone.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

ECAC/IC4A: Class of 2015

Very proud to have one of our larger groups of athletes qualify for and compete in the IC4A/ECAC Championships on Friday night and Saturday in Princeton. From left: Michelle Gaye, Kristen Traub, Spencer Johnson, Nicki Nesi, Hakim Cunningham, Jenna Robinson, Janelle Solviletti, Jenn Horner. Nicely done to one and all.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

ECAC/IC4A: Saturday results

We saved the best for last at Princeton on a long and hot Saturday. Our women’s 4x800 relay bested their two-week-old school record by running 9:09.91. We were in an extremely competitive section and were running from behind almost the entire race. But our ladies ran with such toughness and grit, and we are extremely proud of them. All of our women did great, as you’ll see in the splits below. But it should be noted that Kristen Traub’s 2:15.8 came a few hours after her solid race in the 1,500 trials. Yet another record in what has been a record-breaking winter and spring for our women’s track team.

Earlier in the day, Hakim Cunningham ended what was a remarkable, record-breaking season of his own with a time of 14.90 in the 110 hurdle trials. Two of his final hurdles were a bit shaky and cost him an opportunity to improve on his school record and advance to the semifinals. We are extremely proud of Hakim, who made history by being our first hurdler to qualify for the outdoor IC4A meet.

ECAC/IC4A Championships
Saturday, May 16, 2015
Princeton University
Women’s 1,500 trials
Kristen Traub 4:35.58 (18 of 28)
69.6, 2:23.5 (73.8), 3:38.3 (74.8), 4:35.58 (77.58 last 400m)
Women’s 3,200-meter relay trials
Marist 9:09.91 (16 of 18) *school record, breaks old record of 9:11.34 set two weeks ago by same team
Relay team members and splits:
Jenn Horner 2:19.5
Kristen Traub 2:15.8
Jenna Robinson 2:17.4
Janelle Solviletti 2:16.8
Men’s 110-meter hurdles trials
Hakim Cunningham 14.90 (23 of 31)

Friday, May 15, 2015

ECAC Championships: Friday night results

Ho-hum, another school record for Michelle Gaye. Right? Not so fast … well, actually it was so fast. However! This was a really tough race for Michelle. Not that any of the others were cakewalks. But this was a bruising race. The early pace was slow, but then got fast in a hurry. Michelle made bold moves, challenging elite runners. Elite runners don’t roll over when challenged. So she had to battle past them. She won every mid- and late-race battle, but it was really hard. She spent a lot of time in lane 2 doing just that. A punishing race, that left her collapsed on the track afterwards, totally spent. But worth it! Michelle earned a coveted scoring spot, another PR, another school record, and another chapter in her remarkable distance running career. The last chapter will be written in a little less than two weeks at NCAA Regionals down in Florida, where Michelle will race the 10,000 meters.

Earlier in the night, junior Nicki Nesi put in a gutsy effort in the 3,000 steeplechase. Much like Spencer, she had spent most of finals week being sick. And much like Spencer, she ran as tough and as hard as she could. She did not PR, but she did run her second fastest time ever in the event, and proved that she can tough it out on not her best day.

ECAC Championships
Friday, May 15, 2015
Princeton, University
Princeton, NJ
5,000-meter run
5. Michelle Gaye 16:33.86 *school record, All-East
80, 2:36 (76), 3:55 (79), 5:15 (80)
6:35 (80), 7:54 (79), 9:13 (79), 10:33 (80)
11:53 (80), 13:14 (81), 14:35 (81), 15:54 (79)
16:33.86 (39.86)
1600m splits: 5:15, 5:18, 5:21
3,000-meter steeplechase
18. Nicki Nesi 10:53.88
81, 2:44 (83), 4:09 (85), 5:37 (88), 7:07 (90), 8:37 (90), 10:06 (89), 10:53.88 (48.88)

IC4A Championships: Friday night result

Sophomore Spencer Johnson concluded a remarkable outdoor track season with a truly gutsy effort in the 10km at the IC4As on Friday night under the lights in Princeton. This was Spencer’s fourth 10km of the season – that’s a lot of laps (100, to be exact)! Spencer would never make excuses, but this was a tough week for him: Lack of sleep due to final exams, and allergies that morphed into a full-blown cold, which left him literally gasping for air over the final few laps under the lights on Friday night. “I couldn’t breathe” was the first thing he said after the race.

If you look at the splits below, you won’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out when and where this breathing issue occurred. The early pace was punishing too. But again, Spencer hung tough, passed a lot of runners and outlasted even more runners who DNFed (there were 29 starters in the race). The pre-race goal was sub-31:00, which would have earned him a scoring spot. Given all the factors, it was not in the cards tonight. But Spencer gave it his all, and for that we are extremely proud.

IC4A Championships
Friday, May 15, 2015
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ
10,000-meter run
16. Spencer Johnson 31:33.68
71, 2:23 (72), 3:36 (73), 4:49 (73)
6:04 (75), 7:18 (74), 8:34 (76), 9:49 (75)
11:03 (74), 12:19 (76), 13:34 (75), 14:49 (75)
16:03 (74), 17:19 (76), 18:34 (75), 19:50 (76)
21:07 (77), 22:24 (77), 23:41 (77), 24:59 (78)
26:19 (80), 27:39 (80), 28:58 (79), 30:16 (77)
31:33.68 (77.68)
5km split: 15:27
1600m splits: 4:49, 5:00, 5:00, 5:01, 5:09, 5:17
(Special note: Thanks to Marist Running Alum Doug Ainscow for the usual tremendous job on splits. Doug is in the area – side note, he is a Big Fan of the Garden State – for some on-the-job training, so it was a nice bonus to have him here)