Apr 30, 2015
WEST POINT, N.Y. – In college track and field, it seems all those turns around the oval in competition and practice point toward the conference championships.
American University's trips around the oval this spring have them ready for the Patriot League Outdoor Track and Field Championships, to be contested Friday and Saturday at Army West Point.
Eagles head coach Matt Centrowitz, now in his 16th season, will be taking his team to the PL Outdoor. He feels this year's version is as ready as it can be.
"Most of the kids are ready," he said. "Some of them are still concerned with academics (final exams began Wednesday), but that's something the whole conference has to deal with.
"We've had some small injuries on both the men's and women's sides. Otherwise, we're close to 100 percent, which is better than most teams at this time of the season."
American comes into the outdoor championships with some athletes in strong positions on the league performance list.
Junior Josh Ellis ranks second in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase, courtesy of a 9:04.28 he used to best a national-class field at the Raleigh Relays. Depending on which events he'll run this weekend, he could also be seeded as high as fifth in the 1,500.
Freshmen Jim Belfatto (third) and Alaeldin Tirba (11th) combine with Ellis to give AU its best chance at a big-scoring event in the men's 1,500.
The Eagles also have sophomore Brendan Johnson (eighth) and Tom Woermer (10th) with solid positions on the performance list in the 5,000. Woermer has the sixth-best 10K in the PL so far this season.
On the women's side, freshman school record-holder Brianna Belo ranks sixth in the women's 400, with sophomore Corina Velazco potentially seeded eighth in the 1,500.
"The kids have gotten through the winter tremendously well, improving a lot," said Centrowitz. "A majority of them aren't seniors, so it's great to have underclassmen performing.
"They're improving each and every week, so it's exciting to coach them and be around them.
"The enthusiasm for this team is very high. It's a great indicator and a lot of people are excited to compete. That's good, instead of running out of gas this time of year."
Track events begin at 9 a.m. on Friday with the men's and women's 10,000 finals. Running events begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday, with the awards ceremony scheduled for 5 p.m.