Each competing in a field of eight teams, the Binghamton men’s and women’s track and field teams impressed at the America East Indoor Championship this Monday and Tuesday, placing second and third, respectively, while producing a handful of standout individual performances. It marked the fifth time in the last six years that the men’s team has taken runner-up at the event, and was the women’s best finish at the event since 2002.
“They performed great,” Binghamton head coach Mike Thompson said. “We were hoping for second from both [teams], but we easily could have been fourth on both sides, it was that close, and there just wasn’t anything else we could do. It worked out on the men’s side and just didn’t quite work on the women’s side, but I was very proud of how everybody competed. I thought they stepped up, we did as well as we could possibly do, and it was a great meet.”
Albany swept the event, with both the men and women setting new records for the highest team score in an America East Championship. It was the men’s eighth-straight title and the women’s third in four years.
For Binghamton, the outing was highlighted by the performances of freshman Temi Bajulaiye and sophomore Christy DiMichele, who has freshman eligibility. The pair swept the Most Outstanding Rookie awards following a first-place finish by Balujaiye in the men’s 500 and a first-place tie by DiMichele in the women’s pole vault. Balujaiye recorded a time of 1:05.66 in the 500, while DiMichele notched a 11-9 mark in her event to become the first female athlete from BU to win the award.
“I knew they were both capable of doing as well as they did, but it’s one thing to be capable of doing something and it’s another thing to do it,” Thompson said. “And they pulled it off, so I thought it was fantastic.”
DiMichele tied with junior teammate Camille Ginyard for first place in the pole vault, propelling the women’s squad into first place after the opening day of action. It marked the second-consecutive year Ginyard has taken first in the pole vault at the event. Ginyard and DiMichele, who were teammates at Vestal High School, qualified for the ECACs with their performances.
Other top performers for the Binghamton women on Day 1 were juniors Jessica Goldberg, who took second in the pentathlon, and Alexis Murray, who placed third in the long jump.
The Binghamton men also found themselves atop the standings at the end of Day 1. Senior Adam Helman led the group with a runner-up performance in the pole vault. Seniors Vasili Papastrat and Jacob Platel and freshman Joe Miceli recorded third place finishes in the 5,000, the weight throw and the pole vault, respectively. Helman’s and Platel’s marks qualified them for the IC4As.
Leading the men on Day 2 was Balujaiye and freshman Jon King, who grabbed second place in the high jump. Senior Mike Jennings, junior Chris Fernandez and freshman Cameron Black rounded out the men’s top finishers for the day with third place finishes in their respective events.
Seniors Jessica Hennig and Ashley AuPont, junior Erika Kisel and Murray all captured second place for the women’s team on the second day of action. Junior Alexx Baum and freshman Kierra Arthur each tacked on a third place finish.
Although both teams slipped in the standings on the second day of competition, Thompson credited the teams’ success in the 4×800 relays — the second to last event at the meet — for the Bearcats’ overall success. The head coach said he considered not running the men’s 4×800 relay team because the runners were “shot” at that point. But had they sat the event out, he said, the men’s team would have finished third.
“We knew that they had to do well for us to have any chance of getting second, and both relays ran above and beyond what I ever would have expected from them,” Thompson said. “It was great to see them compete as hard as they did and get it done.”
Binghamton is next scheduled to head to Boston University for the ECAC/IC4A Championships on March 2 and 3.