Jan. 14, 2012
WEST POINT, N.Y. – Army track and field hosted its first regular season team-scoring meet since 2009 on Saturday, with the Black Knight men coming away with a win at the newly refinished Gillis Field House. The men tallied 157.5 points to place first of six teams, while the women registered 96.50 points to land in third. On top of a successful team effort, five Black Knights had their names etched into the Army record books.
Patriot League foe Lehigh won the women’s meet with 142, followed by Monmouth in second with 120.50 points. Trailing the Black Knights were Columbia (77 points), Williams (59) and Rider (56). For the men, Monmouth was runner-up to Army with 117.2 points, followed by Lehigh (93.2), Rider (86.5), Columbia (77) and Williams (24.5).
The Black Knight women opened the meet in impressive fashion as freshman Lisa Junta cruised to a win in the 5,000-meter run. Junta, competing in the 5K for the first time in her collegiate career, established the second-fastest time in Academy history, crossing the line in 17:16.54. The Springfield, Va., native trails only Army Hall of Fame member Teresa Sobiesk, who recorded the Black Knight record time of 16:33.50 in 1987.
The event proved to be a high point for Army, as the Black Knights finished with the four best times and 28 points. Freshman Rachel King placed second (17:57.96), while senior Marcie Nordt (18:02.52) and sophomore Liz O’Donnell (18:04.31) finished third and fourth, respectively.
The Army women also fared well in the 800-meter run. Freshman Jennifer Comfort won the event, edging out the No. 2 finisher by less than half a second by crossing the line in 2:18.96 for 10 points. Comfort, competing in just her second collegiate meet, wrote her name into the Army record book after running the eighth-best 800m time in Academy history.
Also in the 800m, senior Shalela Dowdy added four points to Army’s total with a fourth-place finish of 2:22.52.
Senior Chelsea Prahl and freshman Katrina Donarski rounded out the top-10 historical performances for the women. Prahl placed second in the mile with the Academy’s seventh-best finish all-time of 5:02.94, while Donarski was runner-up in the 500-meter run with Army’s 10th-best time of 1:18.57.
Senior Tom Wagner sent shockwaves through the men’s contingent by eclipsing an historical mark in the high jump. Wagner entered the meet ranked tied for fourth on Army’s all-time list with a height of 2.09 meters. With the rest of the field tapping out at the 2-meter mark, Wagner was left alone as the bar kept getting raised.
All eyes were on Wagner as the running events had already concluded as the Clinton, N.Y., native cleared the bar at 2.14 meters to rank second all-time at West Point. Converted to standard measures, Wagner is just one of two people in Academy history to record a height higher than seven feet, after eclipsing the bar at 7-feet ¼-inch.
Despite winning only four events on the day, the Army men cruised to the team victory by earning multiple top-six finishes in nine of 18 events, highlighted by the 400-meter dash and 5,000m.
Freshman Patrick Taylor led the charge in the 400m, winning the event with a time of 50.30. Sophomore Matt Green followed in second place at 50.47, while senior Michael Hutchins rounded out the top three at 50.67 as Army tallied 24 points in the event.
In the 5,000m, sophomore Ricardo Galindo placed second by crossing the line in 14.59.48, while classmate Kendall Ward finished fifth and junior Dan Jester placed sixth for 11 total points.
Along with both relays, junior Justin Harris was the only other Black Knight to come away with an individual title on the day, winning the pole vault with a height of 4.80 meters.
After the meet, Army head coach reflected on the day’s events.
“For the women, Lisa Junta stands out,” said Engle. “It was a great way to start the meet, to have the fastest time ever by a plebe in the 5K. She’s shown that she’s a force to be reckoned with in the East and that her small health problems from the fall are behind her. In that event alone, along with Marcie Nordt, Rachel King and Liz O’Donnell, we have four kids where our top two were at this time last year.
“A lot of our young kids did great today. You look at Katrina (Mecklenburg) in the mile or Jennifer Comfort in the 800 or Katrina (Donarski) in the 500. To have a strong core that is bolstered by plebes is exciting.
“We wanted our kids to compete together so if you look at some events where we bunched them up and didn’t put them in others, that affected the team scoring. Lehigh came away with 27 points in the 1,000 alone and we didn’t have anyone running in that event at all because we were focused on the 800. Remove the 1,000 and we’re back in the meet. Had we really tried to compete in an optimum ‘team effort’, we would have spread them out, but we wanted them to work together today.”
“For the men, Tom Wagner really stole the show, that was the highlight,” continued Engle. “It’s been a mythical level, the 7-foot mark. He’s been knocking on it for two years but he had a great day and it was a well-deserved honor for a guy that has paid his dues to get there.
“Other impressive individual performances came out of Kyler Martin, who has had just one week of training after coming over from football. Jason Wilkes stepped up in the 60-meter dash, an area of concern that we had going into this season, but it was promising. I think we showed really good depth after a great team performance.”
Army will return to head-to-head action next weekend when the Black Knights travel to the Harvard Invitational. The second-annual event teams Patriot League schools Army and Colgate against Ivy League programs Harvard and Brown.