Off and Running

Running Start: The team runs hard in last years Bulldog Invitational. A few members of this year’s team warmed up at the Grand Valley State University Holiday Open on December 21st, but the season is officially set to start this week at Saginaw Valley. The women’s and men’s teams took 8th and 9th respectively at last year’s GLIAC championships. Photo courtesy of Sandy Gholston
The men’s and women’s track teams officially begin the 2010 indoor track season on Friday at the SVSU Doug Hanson Open.

Some of the team members competed in an event on Dec. 18 at the GVSU Holiday Open in Allendale, Mich. Junior distance runner Paige Onweller said the non-scoring event was mainly for sprinters and field events, as well as redshirted distance runners from the men’s team.

Senior Michael Mangieri won the 5,000-meter run with a time of 15 minutes, 13.71 seconds. Senior Greg Burns finished fourth in the pole vault with a height of 15 feet, three inches.

For the women’s team, returning junior Tina Muir earned All-American honors in the 5,000-meters a season ago. The team has two seniors, seven juniors, and four sophomores returning, to go along with the incoming freshman class.

“We have a very, very talented group of freshmen girls who will be able to step up and fill any shoes after an amazing cross country season,” said Onweller.

The women’s team finished eighth at the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Outdoor Championships and fourth in the GLIAC Indoor Championships a season ago. The team finished tied for 25th in the nation last year at the NCAA-II Outdoor Championships in San Antonio, Texas.

The runners who ran cross country have been training for the track season since the end of November. The field events and sprinters began training for the season in the fall. Muir said they did not have time off from running during the holiday break.

“We are currently practicing six out of the seven days with the team and once a week on our own or in smaller groups,” said Muir.

The men’s team finished ninth at the GLIAC Indoor and Outdoor Championships last season and did not compete in the national meet. Last season, senior Matt Jozwiak earned All-American honors with a seventh place finish in the 800 meters at the NCAA-II Indoor Championships.

Returning seniors include Mangieri, Burns and sprinters Joe Leppek and Justin Price. Thrower Charles Mauris and distance runner Darby Davila return as well. The team has nine sophomores and six juniors returning from last year also.

First-year head coach Steve Picucci said he is proud of the men’s team for performing well, even with a smaller program than other schools in the conference. Picucci believes that the GLIAC is among the toughest conferences in Division II.

“For the men, considering we are the most underfunded program in the conference, scoring any points is a major accomplishment for us,” said Picucci.

Picucci led the cross country and track teams last season as the interim coach. Larry Levine, former assistant coach at Central Michigan, is in his first season as the assistant coach.

“Coach Levine has made a huge impact on our team already with his background in strength training and that really seems to be helping all our athletes,” said Picucci.