We got a nice breather from Olympic sports coverage from about mid-November to now, as really only Swimming and Diving and Wrestling have been in sporadic action over the last seven weeks. That's all about to change, and very quickly.
Track and Field kicks off the 2015 season in a week, and both tennis teams likewise start before the end of January. Softball and Baseball will each get going in the first half of January too. And all this is happening while both basketball teams, wrestling, and swimming continue along and wrap up the winter season.
Track and Field is always the last sport in action at UB, and last year, the teams finished with a bang, sending Ryan Billian, Mike Morgan, and Jon Jones to the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships in Eugene, Oregon, and Jones even got some extra competition in, finishing fourth at the USATF National Championships, the top collegiate thrower in the competition.
But it's a new year, and we've got to look forward. Lumping together the Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field seasons, here's your preview for 2015.
Evan Palmer - MAC Indoor weight throw champion, 2nd in shot put, 4th in discus, 3rd in hammer throw at MAC Outdoor Championships
Rachel Roberts - 3rd place, shot put, in MAC Outdoor championships
Jacob Sunday - MAC Outdoor record, championship in javelin
Donna Jeanty - 3x champ at MAC Outdoor Championship (2 relays, 400h), part of record-setting 4x400 team
Crystal Graham - Part of the record-setting 4x400 relay team
Asia Henry - Part of 4x400 record relay. Outstanding Track Performance at MAC Indoor, All-MAC First Team. MAC Indoor 800m champ, 2nd in outdoor 800m
Miles Lewis - Versatile sprinter, 3rd in 100m dash at MAC Outdoor, 3rd place as part of 4x400m relay
Truth be told, there just weren't a ton of seniors on the Track and Field teams last year. That means this season, there's tons of returning contributors.
Jim Garnham, Throws Coach. He's a coach, but every year he's with UB is a good one, as he's built a throwing powerhouse. In 13 years in Amherst, Garnham has coached MAC Champions in 11. Last year, he was named Northeast Region Assistant Coach of the Year for the second consecutive year. In addition to two prior such awards from outdoor seasons, Garham has four to his name.
Jon Jones, Senior. He's a star who holds the UB Indoor and Outdoor records in the Shot Put, and set the MAC record near the end of the outdoor season. There's not much to say, other than we get him for another year, and it's gonna be awesome.
Megan Patterson, Junior. A UCF transfer, Patterson finished second in the MAC Indoor Championships and sixth in the Outdoor Championships in the shot put.
Jumpers and Vaulters
The star here is Billian, who had a breakout year in 2014, but UB also brings back a MAC champ, a promising sophomore, and a high jumper, listed under the Multis.
Ryan Billian, Junior. Long jump school record, Second Team All-American. MAC runner-up Indoor and Outdoor Championships
Chris Reape, Senior. MAC Indoor High Jump champion, 4th place at MAC Outdoor Championships
Kelly Trupo, Senior. T-4th in MAC Outdoor pole vault, 3rd at Indoor Championships.
Tyra Forbes, Sophomore. Top returning triple and long jumper.
As much as I've sung the praises of Jones, Morgan is a star as well, finishing seventh at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships before having his outdoor National meet ended early by an injury. He's still go two seasons with us.
Mike Morgan, Junior. Reigning MAC Indoor Heptathlon champion, First team All-American. Reigning MAC Outdoor Decathlon champion. NCAA National Championships qualifier.
Emma Siuciak, Senior. MAC Outdoor Heptathlon runner-up. Also a regular podium contender in the high jump.
The women's sprints are probably the unit losing the most, with 3/4 of the record-setting 4x400 relay from last year, and the men losing one of the best of a small group, though Billian (listed above) is a MAC contender in the 60m, 100m, and 200m dash, and the 110m hurdles.
Camaria Long, Junior. Reigning MAC Indoor 200m champion, lone returner from school-record 4X400 indoor and outdoor relays. School record in outdoor 200m dash.
Jalen Law, Junior. Finalist, MAC Indoor 200m, 6th MAC Outdoor 100m.
Zach Ahart, Senior. I got a nice surprise a few weeks ago when I noticed Ahart on the roster for this spring, thinking he had exhausted his eligibility in the 2013-14 season. Turns out while his cross country eligibility was up, he's still got a year of track left. Ahart was of course the 2013 MAC Cross Country champion.
Tyler Scheving, Junior. 2nd MAC Indoor 800, 5th MAC Outdoor 800. School record holder in indoor and outdoor 800m, and indoor 1500m.
There are nine freshman on the men's side, and two names that should stick out are Andrew Berge (Distance), who had a strong cross country season this past fall, and Devon Patterson (throws), who is an absolute MONSTER in the shot put, a multiple-time High School All-American and NY State Champion, ranked second in the country much of last year.
For comparison, Patterson's numbers from last year would have put him #2 on UB's team and had him in contention for points at both MAC championships. They'd also put him in the range of top-four all time at UB. That's ... significant.
Sincere apologies to the rest, who I know less about, though Lancaster native Mitch Fuller has only been running for less than a year and flashed pure short-distance speed in this past outdoor season.
On the women's side, the highlight is likewise the throwers in locals McKenzie Kuehlewind and Jess Dhaliwall. Kuehlewind was atop the state charts for a good chunk of last year, and Dhaliwall, a basketball convert after a torn ACL, was a multiple-time sectional champion in the shot put and discus herself.
Of the eight other women joining the squad, take note of Morgan Mahoney, who comes from the strong distance program in Liverpool, Abigail Jankowski, multiple-time Section VI 800m champion, and Sydney Bova, two-time Section VI 1500m champion.
Track and Field is a long, long season that would be a large table if I tried to reproduce the entire thing.
The indoor slate is short at only six weeks, and doesn't have much variety. After opening the year at the famed Armory in New York City next week, UB will travel twice each to the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, OH, Penn State, and Cornell before the MAC Indoor Championships on 27 and 28 February, hosted by Central Michigan. When Morgan, Jones, and hopefully others qualify for Indoor Nationals, they'll travel to Fayetteville on 13 and 14 March.
Outdoor season sees UB competing in multiple meets most weekends, highlighted by the Florida Relays (3 and 4 April) and Penn Relays (23-25 April). Ball State will host the MAC Outdoor Championships from 14 May to 16 May and the NCAA Outdoor Championships will once again be in Eugene, Oregon on 10-13 June.