Having not competed since the end of the 2019-20 indoor season, the Binghamton men’s and women’s track teams had strong performances at the Lafayette Open over the weekend. The Bearcats recorded nine first-place finishes and shattered an individual school record in the 100M hurdles.
“It felt really good to get out and compete,” said Binghamton head coach Mike Thompson. “It was good to finally get back at it.”
On Saturday, graduate student Elly Scherer took to the track to race in the 100M hurdles. After having been plagued with injury and illness throughout her collegiate career, she ran a time of 13.87 in the first meet of the season and broke the school record from 2012.
“This is [Scherer’s] fifth year and during her entire career she’s had bad luck with injury or COVID-19 … it always seemed like she had something working against her,” Thompson said. “To see her finally run the race that she’s been capable of is fantastic.”
Scherer’s promising start to the season was coupled with first-place finishes by her teammates in eight other events, two of which were relays in the 4×100 on both the women’s (48.75) and the men’s (42.24) sides.
“People were so hungry to compete that they stepped up and performed very well,” Thompson said.
Three Bearcats managed to take gold in the field events. Senior pole vaulter Mallory Prelewicz led the charge, clearing 10-11.75 feet on her first attempt at that height and outperforming the second and third place finishers by almost half a foot. Binghamton also swept both long jump events, with junior Jake Restivo jumping 23-10 feet for the men, and sophomore Mallorie Turner recording 18-5.75 feet for the women.
In the sprinting events, graduate student Thomas Cooper ran 22.36 to tie for first with Monmouth junior Jalen Jones in the 200M dash for the men, and graduate student Greg Matzelle ran 10.74 in the 100M to take first place. Finishing right behind Matzelle was freshman Taiki Hirooka, who clocked in at 11.06 to run just shy of the 11-second barrier.
“Most of the freshmen looked really good,” Thompson said. “Overall I was very pleased.”
To cap off the first-place finishers, junior Stephanie Cassens won the 400M dash with a time of 59.62 and was the only competitor to finish in under a minute in the women’s race.
While Binghamton swept many of the sprinting and field events, the Bearcats were missing many of their best athletes in the distance races. Both redshirt sophomore Aziza Chigatayeva and redshirt senior Emily Mackay did not appear during the meet, but the duo are slated to compete later in the season.
“[Chigatayeva and Mackay] are very talented and they work very hard so I would expect them to do very well [this season],” Thompson said. “I’m excited to see what they can do.”
Mackay made Binghamton Division I program history earlier in March after competing at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, finishing 14th in the race and earning All-American honors. In the past, she has finished second in the mile at the 2019-20 America East Indoor Track Championships and has broken her indoor mile record at the Boston Valentine Invitational in February of 2020. Like the rest of her teammates, she has not competed in an outdoor season since 2019.
In addition to Mackay, redshirt junior Dan Schaffer is another Bearcat entering this season with a list of accolades to his name. Schaffer won the 1500M in the 2019 AE Outdoor Championships, has a lifetime best of 4:00.38 in the mile, and was invited to compete at the prestigious Millrose Games in February 2020. He also has the school record in the 5k with a time of 14:03.06.
Binghamton is set to compete next at the Happy Easter Races on Saturday, April 3. The meet is set to begin at 10 a.m. in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.