Track and field, or at least a chunk of UB Track and Field representatives, are at the Penn Relays this week to compete in one of the most prestigious meets of the spring.
For the most part, almost nobody reads our coverage of UB's 18 sports beyond football and men's basketball. But for those folks, they're missing out on a truly wonderful season from both Men's and Women's Track and Field, a season that even for attentive fans and myself has been pushed aside by the basketball season that just won't end.
Between the indoor and outdoor season, since January, Track and Field has had at least as strong a showing as any UB team in 2014-15, including the three that advanced further in the postseason than ever before. Whether it's predicted strengths (field events) hitting even greater heights and national recognition, multiple contributors stepping up after heavy losses to graduation (sprints), or just a solid collection of runners getting a lot faster a lot more quickly (mid-distance), it's already been a banner year.
On the high end, UB had a pair of First Team All-Americans at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field National Championships, and in a narrow lens, I'm pretty sure the only weekend that hasn't seen a new school record was the very first back in January.
Point being, the basketball season that won't end needs to end and the Track and Field team deserves way more attention than it's getting -- I literally cannot find the last time someone other than this site or UBBulls.com wrote anything more than a stripped-down press release on the team -- and not just because it's important to me to support all the teams, but because they're having the best season in program history by a long shot.
I promised you Penn Relays previews and not rants.
As you'd expect at an elite meet, UB can't just bring everyone (Last week's showing at the Cornell Upstate Challenge says hello), but the top-ranked men's team and sixth-ranked women's team in the Northeast will both put forward a good number of competitors, especially in the field events, where throws have always been a Buffalo strength, but jumps and vaults are also making their presence known.
UB has fully four men and four women competing in throws at the Relays, led by multiple-time All-American and all-around monster Jon Jones. I tweeted out yesterday that Jones was the second-seeded thrower in the event, but I'm not so sure now that ID numbers correlate to seeds. Still, there are few men in the country who can beat him, and he'll be in contention for the title in the "Championship" flight.
The level below him, the "College" flight, features not just Devon Patterson, and not just the freshman and Ryan Cribbin, but both of those gents and Sean Harvey. Without spending too much time in the entry lists, I don't think that having four qualifiers for this event is particularly unique, but it's still cool.
McKenzie Kuehlewind and Joanna Hallisy will throw shot on the women's side and Miranda Daucher and Taylor Woods discus. *If* the ID numbers are indeed seeds, then Daucher should be considered a favorite to win her flight.
Jumps and Vaults
If you're familiar with the team, you can pretty much predict the names here. Billian, Ashby, Price, Truppo, and Forbes. Mike Morgan and Emma Siuciak competed last week in their respective multis, and they don't seem to be here at all with their pole vault and high jump expertise. Still, Ryan Billian was a Second Team Outdoor All-American last year and will be in the Championship Long Jump flight, likely based on past performances rather than anything this season;after redshirting the winter, Billian only competed in the long jump for the first time this year last weekend.
Austin Ashby is also plenty capable in the long jump, and will compete in the "College" flight. Once again, if IDs are seeds, he's a favorite. Austin Price is likewise near the top of the table in the triple jump lineup.
Kelly Truppo is in the Championship category for the pole vault, and Buffalo is definitely the odd school out in the list of entrants. An extra reason to see her do well, beyond the normal. Tyra Forbes is I think really flying under the radar this year on this whole team that's flying under the radar, and she sits middle of the pack in the women's long jump lineup.
I really did not, short of Camaria Long and maybe one surprise, expect much from the UB sprinters this year. Instead, while they won't represent in quite the same numbers as the field events, they're definitely holding up their end of the bargain on two strong teams.
I'll start with Long, who's certainly part of the 4x100 and 4x200 relays that're in absolutely massive fields - I confess I don't really know right now the likely relay lineups, but last weekend it was Long, Malayah White, Asher Beasley, and Forbes - and is also an alternate for the 100m dash.
Alternate is also the word for Christine Lyttle in the 110m hurdles, and it's very strange to see her name and not Kailyn Arcury, as the two have been neck and neck all season. In the longer hurdles, it's Regine Lazard, who is not an alternate in the 400 and looks firmly in the middle of the pack.
Once again, I'm not super confident on the relay lineups, but the men's 4x100 should be close to Billian, Jalen Law, Brian Cummiskey, and Darien Johnson. Billian also cracked the 100m dash lineup, though apparently just barely. Again with the IDs and the seeds.
Mid-Distance and Distance
I'm surprised not to see many Bulls as individual entries in the longer events - it's just John McCarthy in the steeplechase - but Oregon is here, so maybe they account for 70% of the entries in every event longer than 400 meters. Just saying.
In the relays, you can bet that Tyler Scheving and Brian Crimmins will be half of the Men's 4x800 relay, and will likely account for legs in the 4xMile and Distance Medley relays. Cam Bruce, McCarthy again, perhaps Barrett Kemp, Zach Ahart, and others could also fill out those relays.
The women do not have a 4x800 entry, but I'm sure Corinne Birchard, Meghan Manley, and Melinda Wheeler will all be in the 4x1500 or DMR lineups, or both.
Day-by-day updates posts? I'll have day-by-day updates posts.