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Track and field races at New Balance Invitational

By Ryan Irwin
On February 7, 2012


Coming home from the city that never sleeps, a few Wildcats from the track and field team will certainly be sleeping like babies after posting multiple victories and personal bests at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational held in New York City this past weekend.  

On the first day of the meet for the men's side, sophomore distance runner Samuel Ellison won the rarely-run 500-meter race, while senior distance runner Ryan Sheridan captured the victory in the 5000-meter.  

What was so unusual about the 500-meter victory for Ellison and the 'Cats?

"I haven't run that event since last year," said Ellison, who recorded a personal best and dropped 0.8 seconds, from 1:02.76 to 1:01.92, off of his previous best time from a year ago.  

That 500-meter time was not only good enough for third place in the Big East, but also third place in the country overall.  

The invitational, spanning two days and featuring numerous teams from the Big East and the South, is one of the final tune-ups before the 'Cats head back to New York for the Big East Championships. 

"There is always a ton of good competition at this invitational, especially the teams from the south that we rarely see, such as LSU," Ellison said. "It's a good chance to see how we stack up not only in the Big East, but against the rest of the country, too."

The second day of competition also featured some standout performances from the 'Cats.

Junior distance runner Matthew Mildenhall won a tightly contested 3000-meter race, beating out the runner-up by more than 1.5 seconds.  

It was Mildenhall's first event of the indoor season.

The men's team makes another trip this weekend to the Big Apple for the 104th running of the famous Millrose Games. 

Invitational meets, such as the New Balance Invitational or the upcoming Millrose Games, are more about individual successes and working for personal records. 

The conference championships are about winning as a team. 

"Sometimes you run an event to help the team and score the most points, but it is not necessarily an event you always win," Ellison said.  

Meanwhile, the women's team had as many individual successes as the men in their final meet before the conference championships. 

On the first day of competition for the women, sophomore jumper Samantha Yeats won the collegiate high jump, beating a field of 19 athletes by clearing a height of 1.78 meters, a personal best. 

The second day of competition proved to be even more fruitful, with sophomore distance runner Emily Lipari winning a near photo-finish mile race and the 'Cats beating out a field of six teams in the 4x400 meter relay.

Lipari, who bested the mile race's runner-up by half a second, crossed the finish line with a time of 4:39.78, the only sub-4:40 time in the field. 

It would also beat her personal best by almost three seconds.  

The sophomore has run the mile twice in her young career.  Twice she has finished in first. 

As the women's team will not make the trip back to New York with the men for the Millrose Games, they have their sights set on the Big East Championship.

"As a team we have had some good performances the past couple of weeks," Lipari said. "We have a young team, a talented team, and we believe that we have a chance to win it all as we go to the conference championship."  

The Big East championship starts Feb. 18, and those who meet qualifying standards will continue on to the NCAA Championships in early March.   

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