Numbers alone would show that the men’s and women’s track and field teams finished in the bottom rung among conference foes at last weekend’s Atlantic Ten Conference Championship in Kingston, R.I.
For the record, the men’s team finished eighth out of nine teams and the women’s squad placed 10th in the 11-team field.
Digging deeper a bit, though, would reveal that Temple’s individual performances at the A-10 Championship could help the team elevate to the ranks of the A-10’s elite. Coach Stephanie Scalessa said the Owls’ rise begins with the stellar performances given by this year’s team.
“If you look at the results they are nothing to jump up and down about,” Scalessa said. “We are a developing program and will look to become a major contender. [It] all starts with some of the performances we had this weekend.”
Freshman Bryce Buffaloe of the men’s team, who has been tossing aside school records as if they were an event apparatus, ended his indoor season in unsurprising record fashion. Buffaloe heaved his way to yet another school record in weight throw with a throw of 52 feet, 7.5 inches, breaking the previous record by six inches.
The throw, which marked the fourth time this season that Buffaloe has set the school record, put Buffaloe third in the event. He also placed in the top 10 in shotput, finishing seventh with a throw of 45 feet, 11.75 inches.
Another freshman, Mitch Stroh, had a stellar Championship run on the track. Stroh had a personal-best time of 2:34.10 in the 1,000-meter run, helping him to a fifth-place finish in the event. Scalessa said she could hardly contain her excitement over the results of Stroh’s performance.
“Mitch ran an unbelievable race,” Scalessa said. “Look at the record books. When was the last time we had a man and a woman place in the 1,000? That’s huge.”
The female performer Scalessa spoke of was sophomore Noelle McKenzie, who broke the school record in her own 1,000-meter run with a sixth-place finish time of 3:00.58.
The star of the weekend for the women’s team was junior Tynisha Gardner, who won the 500-meter dash with her season-best time of 1:14:68. She beat Fordham’s Maureen Zivic by .01 seconds to take the event. The time qualified Gardner for the ECAC Championships, which impressed even Scalessa, the coach said.
“Tynisha got off to a great start and [Zivic] caught her from behind,” Scalessa said. “Usually when you get passed, you kind of wave the white flag. But Tynisha really showed a lot of heart by kicking in to come back and win that race.”
Gardner was equally energized with her win. “Not to toot my own horn,” Gardner said, “but I was very happy with the result.”
One result Gardner was not too happy with was the fourth-place finish of the women’s 4×400 team, for which she runs one leg. The team ran a time of 3:55:78, without injured freshman Devon DuPont.
“I was disappointed with the way we finished,” Gardner said. “I think we will look past it, though, focus on the ECACs and continue to keep progressing.”
Scalessa said the injury to DuPont was crucial.
“Being without Devon was tough,” Scalessa said. “Delicia Sample did an outstanding job in her place. She had a great split time. I really do think injuries have hurt this team.”
Senior Stephen Johnson finished sixth in long jump with a leap of 22 feet, 1.5 inches, which came on his first attempt. But because of a knee injury, Johnson did not jump or race in any other events.
“This team really is battling with injuries,” Scalessa said. “A lot of that has to do with the condition of the outdoor track. It’s in terrible shape. It’s only been recently that we have been allowed to use the indoor track to train. We are working with the school to build new facilities, but until then I think it’s incredible what this team has accomplished with sub-par facilities.”
Scalessa said the team’s work at the A-10 Championship puts it in great shape for the outdoor track and field season.
“The outdoor season is so short, so it’s important to be ready as soon as possible,” Scalessa said. “The indoor season allows everyone to build a strong foundation to head into the outdoor season.”
Greg Otto can be reached email@example.com.