By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer
Winters in Central New York bring shorter days, colder air and slippery pavements. Many runners escape indoors to the safety of Manley Field House. The tartan 200-meter oval becomes our winter home. We take advantage of open practice hours, all-comers track meets, noontime runs and high school invitationals.
When we run in Manley Field House, we are guests of the Syracuse University track and field program. Our hosts, the SU runners, jumpers and throwers, remain nameless and faceless to most Central New York runners. Yet, once a year, we have a unique opportunity to thank them for their hospitality and show our support for their program.
Saturday, the Syracuse Track and Field Invitational will be at Manley Field House. This will be the team's only home meet of the year. Athletes from several area colleges and track clubs are expected to participate, including Alfred, Hartwick, Ithaca, SUNY Binghamton, SUNY Albany, SUNY Cortland, SUNY Delhi, the University of Toronto, York University, the Ottawa Lions and the Syracuse Chargers.
The meet is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m.
Cory Ward returns for the Orangemen to anchor the sprint group. Ward was the Outstanding Male Track Performer at the 1996 Big East Indoor Championship after winning the 55-meter and 200-meter sprint titles. David Byrd and Paul Gittens provide depth in the 200-meter and 400- meter sprints, while Adrian Woodley and freshman John Ward will lead the hurdlers.
In the distance events, senior Aaron Brinsko competes in his last home meet after setting school records in both the indoor and outdoor 800 meters last year. Matt Norton, Dan McSherry, Matt Lutz, Nate Getman, Roger Donaghy, Craig Zingerline, Tom Howard and Brian Lepinski round out the distance corps.
On the women's side, sophomore Deniece Bell leads the hurdlers after setting a school record in the 400-meter hurdles at the Canadian Junior National Championships last summer. Bell participated in the Junior Pan Am Games. Twins Adrienne and Melanie Scherenzel compete in their final season at SU, specializing in the 400-meter and 400-meter hurdles. Junior Veronica Dyer and freshman Alicia Crowd round out the women's sprints and hurdles group.
The Syracuse distance women are coming off a strong season. The foursome of Michelle LaPointe, Betsy Hogan, Brittany Chamberlin and Sarah Barton set the school record in the 4x800-meter relay last season and qualified for the ECAC in the process. Freshmen Terrah Chapin and Jenna Sokolowski are running well, and the return of Sarah Schmidt, Lindsay Willard, Laura Trewhitt and Laura Murphy provides depth in longer events.
In the throws, Josh Patulski and Alex Brown lead SU in the discus, while Ben Galyardt and Ray Ripple will compete in the 35-pound weight throw. The women's throwers include two All-Big East performers from last year, Maureen Wickerham and Megan Harrison.
The Syracuse jumpers include Peter Johncour and Dan Swanker in the pole vault, and Marc Sweet and Matt Nicoll in the triple jump. Freshmen Cory Hubert and Jeff Proulx, the 1997 New York state high school champion, specialize in the high jump. Leslie Dise, Lisa Braithwaite, LaToya Redden and Veronica Dyer lead the women's jumpers.
This column cannot recognize all the athletes in the Syracuse University track and field program, nor do justice to their talent and dedication. So, come cheer them on at Manley Field House Saturday. Seize the opportunity to meet them in person, to wish them luck and to thank them for their hospitality during Central New York's lengthy winters.
Kamal Jabbour plans to thank the Syracuse athletes by volunteering at their invitational. His RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. He maintains The Syracuse Running Page and receives email at firstname.lastname@example.org.