The Binghamton track and field team had a historic weekend. Star senior middle-distance runner Jesse Garn was named the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches’ Association (USTFCCCA) Northeast Region Indoor Track Athlete of the Year and assistant coach Annette Acuff was named the same region’s men’s Assistant Indoor Coach of the Year all while BU recorded a stellar finish at the IC4A/ECAC invitational.
Garn earned the USTFCCCA award for the first time in his career after recording one of the best individual seasons in Binghamton program history. The senior participated in the NYC Armory Invitational against some of the top competition in the world, was named America East Track Athlete of the Week twice and finished first in the 800-meter event at the Penn State Sykes & Sabock Challenge.
“That was a huge surprise for me,” Garn said of winning the award. “I’m incredibly honored. It’s only nine people for the track side every year for the indoor track season and for me to be named the northeast rep is huge.”
Garn’s best race this season came at the Iowa State Classic, at which he clocked a time of 1:46.9 in the 800. That time was the sixth fastest in the nation, which was sufficient to qualify Garn for the 2014-15 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, held March 13-14 at the University of Arkansas.
“It’s super exciting — a dream is kind of a reality now,” Garn said. “I think that it could be anyone’s race. I’m going into the meet just focusing on the prelims … I’m super excited and I’m super confident in my ability to do well.”
Acuff earned the top assistant award in the east region for the third time in her career. She garnered the previous two during the 2011 indoor season and the 2012 outdoor season.
“I am very honored and very grateful for the award,” Acuff said. “The first time I got the award, I thought that might be the only time I would ever get the award. It is a pretty elite award so it is a great honor to be selected by my coaching colleagues.”
Binghamton found success at the ECAC/IC4A championships as well. The men’s side was paced by sophomore sprinter Jon Alkins. Alkins broke the school record in the 200-meter preliminary round, recording a time of 21.36 seconds. The sophomore followed with an overall victory in the final round of the 200, again besting the school record with a 21.25 performance. Alkins also tied the school record in the 60-meter event, finishing in fifth overall with a time of 6.90.
“We thought he would run pretty well,” BU head coach Mike Thompson said. “We didn’t have a time in mind specifically, but certainly the way that he has run this year, his ability, his work ethic and his competitive nature, we expected him to do very well. Now to win it and to run it that fast? I don’t know. We knew it was maybe possible but for it to happen was very exciting.”
Other top performers for the men included sophomore Peter Fagan, who finished third in the pole vault with a height of 16-6.75, and Ethan Hausamann, who recorded a time of 14:25.65 in the 5,000-meter to finish in seventh. Overall, the men finished 14th out of 46 competing teams.
The BU women tied for 15th in a field of 47 teams and were led by sophomore Keishorea Armstrong. Armstrong broke another school record, finishing in second in the 200-meter with a time of 23.85 seconds. She also recorded a second-place finish in the triple jump with a height of 41-7.
“The triple jump is an event that is new to [Armstrong],” Thompson said. “She works on it a little bit but really she focuses on sprinting primarily. But I’ve always known that she has the ability to be an exceptional triple jumper and she is starting to figure it out.”
The Binghamton track and field team is scheduled to return to action when it begins the outdoor portion of its season on March 21 at the Cornell Spring Invitational. First events are set to begin at 10 a.m. at the Robert J. Kane Sports Complex in Ithaca, New York.