In the two-day America East Indoor Championships over the weekend, the Binghamton University men’s indoor track and field team fell just short of achieving its goal, ending 27 points shy of first place and coming in second for the fourth year in a row. The women’s team placed eighth out of nine teams at the annual conference championships. University at Albany took first-place honors on both sides for the second year in a row, but several Bearcats had notable performances.
On Friday, senior Erik van Ingen clocked a time of 14:25.08 to win the 5000-meter. He also finished first in the 1000-meter with a time of 2:24.34 and collected Men’s Most Outstanding Track Performer honors.
Van Ingen was proud of the versatility he displayed en route to being honored with the accolade.
“It’s definitely an honor, and I think the fashion that I won it is important to me, winning the 5k and the 1k,” van Ingen said. “It just shows that I have a pretty good range of being competitive in the longer distances and the middle distances and that’s something I’ve always admired of other athletes — being able to be versatile.”
In addition, van Ingen related winning the award to his personal growth as a contributor to the team.
“It reflects on, I guess, my growth as an athlete over the past few years,” he said. “I’ve been a strong athlete, but I’ve never been able to contribute that much to my team at a conference championship. To be able to do that, finally, is important to me, and I’d say it’s very important to my teammates.”
Also finishing in first, the men’s 4X400 relay unit of seniors Christian Smith, Cazal Arnett and Andy Haupt and sophomore Casey Gilbert broke University at Albany’s meet record with a time of 3:11.58.
Binghamton head coach Mike Thompson was thrilled with the relay squad’s performance.
“Those guys ran out of their minds,” he said. “I thought they’d have a chance to win it, but they looked phenomenal.”
Entering the tournament, Binghamton was expected to have a strong showing in the men’s pole vault. Sophomore Adam Helman vaulted 4.95 meters and notched a victory in the event while juniors Eric VanAernam and Robb Quiller tied for third. The Bearcats garnered a total of 21 points in the event.
Thompson was pleased with the trio’s accomplishment.
“They did what they needed to do,” Thompson said. “They could have been a little better but it could have been a lot worse. They were supposed to get a lot of points and they did.”
Although no other men won their events, there were several more notable finishes. Senior Andy Haupt placed third in the 200-meter with a time of 21.76 and senior Casey Quaglia took second place in the one-mile run, crossing the finish line after 4:06.43. Sophomore Jeff Martinez finished second in the 3000-meter and also placed third in the 5000-meter.
Senior Cazal Arnett, despite predictions, did not win either the 200-meter or the 400-meter. Arnett had taken first place in both events in each of the past three conference tournaments. Still, the senior, who had also won Most Oustanding Track Performer as a sophomore and junior, earned Binghamton points by placing sixth and third in the 200-meter and 400-meter, respectively.
Albany finished first with 184 points, followed by Binghamton’s 157 and Boston University’s 141. University of Maryland, Baltimore County was the only other team to crack 100 points with its 107.
Overall, Thompson was excited about the men’s second-place finish.
“The men did extremely well,” he commented. “We thought if we had a perfect meet and Albany had an average meet we could beat them, but we had a very good meet and they had a very good meet. Going into the meet we were looking at third behind Albany and Boston, so it’s an accomplishment.”
Thompson and his staff of Natilee Dawkins, Annette Acuff and Gabe Fletcher were honored as the Men’s Coaching Staff of the Year. However, Thompson gave the credit to his team for their performance.
“It’s nice to get those things, but really it means that the team performed really well and that’s the best thing about it,” Thompson said.
As for the women, sophomore Jessica Hennig notched a victory in the 400-meter with a time of 55.69, while sophomore Jenna Marrione and freshman Camille Ginyard placed second and fourth, respectively, in the pole vault. Freshman Jessica Goldberg finished fourth in the pentathlon.
Albany finished on top for the women, followed in second by Boston. Hartford was the only team to finish with fewer points than Binghamton.
Binghamton’s indoor season is not over yet. Bearcats who qualified for the ECAC and IC4A championships at Boston University are set to be back in action on March 5-6, and the NCAA championships at Arkansas are scheduled to follow on March 11-12.
Van Ingen has his preparation plan set.
“I think this week coming up we will have a couple more solid workouts,” he said. “Then after that it’s gonna be resting up and making sure my body is rested and fresh and sharp and ready to really go.”