The Lehman women’s track & field team did what many expected at the 16th Annual CUNYAC/U.S. Army Indoor Championships, taking first place overall with 183 total points, to win the College’s first championship since 2009. Standout sophomore Tobi Alli was named the women’s MVP at the event, which was held on Feb. 26 at the New Balance Track & Field Center in Washington Heights.
The team entered the meet on a high note: new rankings from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association put the Lightning in the #12 position in Division III. The ranking represents a move up of four spots since the previous poll and a jump over SUNY-Oneonta, Ramapo College, Monmouth University, and Illinois College. Lehman increased its overall point total by 10.85 to 51.02 points and is the only CUNYAC school represented in the rankings.
At the meet, the Lightning leaned hard on its talented trio of Alli, Jasmine Springer, and Shantay Beccan and was not disappointed. The fearsome threesome combined for ten medals as they dominated the sprint and jump events.
“Tobi, Jasmine, and Shantay did a hell of a job,” said Lehman head coach Lesleigh Hogg following the meet. “They did a lot of events, they scored a lot of points for us, and they were the difference.”
Alli finished first in the 60-meter dash, setting a new meet record (7.80 seconds), first in the 200-meter dash (25.42), and second in the triple jump (11.51m), enabling her to add the MVP title to her blossoming trophy collection. She heaped praise on assistant coach Pete Charles.
“I really needed to improve on my endurance this season,” said Alli. “He [Pete] polished up everything. He is annoying, but he is a really good coach. He just knows the right thing to do, and he just does his thing.”
A key acquisition to the Lightning by way of transfer this year, Springer actually one-upped Alli in overall medal count, grabbing first in the 400-meter dash, triple jump, and long jump, and second in the 200-meter dash.
For her part, Beccan won her specialty, the 60-meter hurdles, in a new meet record of 9.00 seconds. She also was the top finisher in the high jump (1.52m) and earned a bronze medal in the 60-meter dash (8.07).
Despite all their excellence, three does not make a team, however, as Alli, Springer, and Beccan relied on help from up and down the roster in building the Lightning’s winning margin of 81 points over runner-up City College of New York. Senior Michaelle Garcon completed her indoor career in memorable fashion by winning three medals. Among senior college competitors, she finished second in the mile (5:31.29), where she set a personal best by 15 seconds, third in the 3000-meter run (11:59.05), and third in the 800-meter run (2:34.63). Sophomore Aminat Adebayo built on her impressive rookie performance of a year ago by earning a gold medal in the shot put and a silver in the weight throw. Also providing an unexpected lift were Thamare Rejouis and Ashley Hernandez.
“It seemed like we won by a lot, but it can go bad very quickly if they don’t all step up and do what they’re supposed to do,” noted Coach Hogg.
On the men’s side, Lehman’s men’s team finished fifth out of the five senior colleges with 56 points. The Lightning delivered some standout individual performances, but could not put up enough points to factor into the final standings.
Junior Jovannie Gardner earned two medals for his first place time of 6.99 seconds in the 60-meter dash and his second place time of 22.66 seconds in the 200-meter dash.
Lehman throwers Chad Delicia and Jordan DeJoie each also medaled, with Delicia winning the shot put, while DeJoie wound up third in the weight throw.
Freshman Spencer Page finished second in the high jump (1.84m) to earn a silver medal.
Both Alli and Springer will now turn their attention to the upcoming NCAA Championships, set for March 9 and 10, with Beccan a potential competitor as well if she can improve her 60-meter hurdle standings at the ECAC Championships.