In a sport where individual performances often overshadow a full team effort, track and field coach Stephanie Scalessa said work ethic has been a consistent positive influence on her squads.
“The work ethic and effort this team puts forth is great,” Scalessa said. “We have an extremely young team, but the few veterans that we have are stepping up and becoming standouts. Overall that is creating a better team feel, and they have been doing great.”
Scalessa’s sentiments come after a weekend of meets in which the men’s and women’s track and field teams continued to set personal bests and focus on the upcoming Atlantic Ten Conference Indoor Championship, on Feb. 18 in Kingston, R.I.
In Boston at the Terrier Classic, the women’s team – specifically the 4×400 meter relay team – continued its drive to the conference championship. The team of junior Tynisha Gardner, sophomore Shanice DePass, and freshmen Devon DuPont and Brittani Adams, qualified for the Eastern College Athletic Conference championship in the 4×400 with a time of 3:52.62. The time was a two-second improvement on the team’s previous season best, which came last week at the Great Dane Classic.
Gardner said qualifying for the ECAC championship was something her relay team thought was in its grasp.
“I was confident going into yesterday that we could get [the qualifying time], and I was ecstatic once I knew we did it,” Gardner said. “This team is all ready to go to the next level. We have a good chance to be No. 1 [at the A-10 Championship].”
“[The women’s 4×400 team] is running very well for such a young team,” Scalessa said. “With DuPont and Adams as freshmen, they are running great. Shanice DePass ran her best performance of the year, and Tynisha is running better than ever.”
Gardner also competed in the 55m and 200m dashes. She finished 12th in the 55m, with a time of 7.42. In the 200m, her time of 25.63 placed her 13th. While the time in the 55m was her season best, Gardner said she was not happy with her performance.
“The coaches keep putting me in different events and some I am not really accustomed to,” Gardner said. “I wasn’t really happy with my 200m time.”
Scalessa said the times were not up to par because Gardner has been battling a toe injury. She plans to let Gardner concentrate in the 200m and 400m dashes in the upcoming weeks, since they are the events Gardner is expected to perform in at the A-10 Championship.
On the men’s side, one of the team’s young standouts continues to etch his name in Temple’s record books. At the Bison Open in Lewisburg, Pa., freshman thrower Bryce Buffaloe bested his own school record with a throw of 52 feet, 2 inches in the weight throw. Despite the top finish, Buffaloe still finished second in the event. The throw was the third-best effort in the A-10 this season. Scalessa said Buffaloe has a bright future at Temple.
“I couldn’t ask for anything more from Bryce,” she said. “He is only going to continue to get better.”
While Buffaloe was representing the Owls in the field, senior sprinter Steven Johnson was continuing his strong senior season at the Terrier Classic. Johnson ran in the 55m and 200m dashes, with finishing times of 6.71 and 22.65, respectively. Both were personal bests. Scalessa said this is the best she has seen from Johnson in his career at Temple.
“As a runner, the mental toughness Steven has is amazing,” Scalessa said.
A handful of Owls competing in the distance events ran personal bests in Boston. Senior Matt Kobialka ran his first sub-two-minute 800m run, with a time of 1:59.31. Junior Dave D’Addario ran a 4:24.35 mile. But the team’s strongest performance came from freshman Mitch Stroh, who ran a 1:06.82 in the 500m dash, earning him to a 23d place finish in the event.
The Owls have one more chance to prepare for the A-10 Championship. This weekend, the teams will be in New York City at the New Balance Games.
Greg Otto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.