Comfort Sets Academy Record in 1000 Meters at Harvard Challenge

Jennifer Comfort

Jennifer Comfort

Jan. 19, 2013


BOSTON, Mass. – Army track and field traveled to the Harvard Challenge and Multi Meet this weekend, competing alongside Northeastern against a pair of Ivy League schools and a duo of Division III squads. The Black Knight men and women each earned second-place finishes overall, while the men teamed with the Huskies for first place while the women took second to Harvard and Brown.

The host Crimson led all team scorers in both competitions, totaling 112.5 points in the women’s meet and 78.5 in the men’s to edge the Black Knight men by just two points with 76.5. The Army women tallied 52 points and combined with third-place team Northeastern (47) to place runner-up as a group to the Ivy League (158.5). Division III representatives Williams and MIT combined for 60.5 points in the women’s meet and 44 points in the men’s.

Nine marks recorded on Saturday rank among the best in Academy history, highlighted by sophomore Jennifer Comfort’s record-setting run in the 1,000 meters. Comfort placed second of 10 in the event by shaving .45 seconds off the Army standard set by Ashley Urick in 2006. Comfort crossed the finish line in 2:52.99 to not only capture the Academy record but also qualify for the ECAC Championships.

Comfort was also a member of the distance medley relay team which won the event with the third-best time in program history – 12:03.20. Comfort, who ran the 800-meter leg, was joined by senior tri-captain Mary Prakel (1,200m), sophomore Lisa Junta (1,600m) and freshman Haley Winters (400m).

Junta was successful on the individual level as well, winning the mile with the third-best time in program history and the best since 2006 – 4:55.85. The finish bested ECAC-qualifying standards, marking the fourth event this season she has qualified for and the third consecutive meet she’s recorded a postseason-qualifying time.

Winters also succeeded in her individual event, placing third of eight in the 60-meter dash by crossing the line in 7.85 seconds, the best Army finish since 2009. The mark also ranks tied for fifth all-time in program history.

For the second consecutive week junior Allie Sutherland recorded a top-10 Academy mark, this time around coming in the 500m. Sutherland placed fourth of 16 with the sixth-fastest time in program history (1:17.35). She also teamed with sophomore Katrina Donarski and senior tri-captains Kaitlyn Love and Ashley Gordon to win the 4x440-yard relay (3:54.33).

Freshman Megan Gemar rounded out the historical marks on the women’s side as she continued her ascend up Army’s pole vault chart. This week Gemar jumped from No. 5 to No. 3 all-time by eclipsing the bar at 3.55 meters. Gemar has recorded a top-10 height in every meet this season.

On the men’s side, the 60-meter hurdles continued to be a solid event for the Black Knights as their two best finishes on the day rank among the best all-time. Senior Kyler Martin, who qualified for the IC4As at last week’s Army Six-Way, jumped from seventh to fifth on Army’s top-10 list in the event with his runner-up time of 8.12 seconds. Senior tri-captain Thomas Ryan followed in third place as his finish of 8.24 stands at eighth-fastest all-time.

The men’s 500 meters was also a high point as Army’s top-two finishers each bested IC4A standards. Sophomore Clyde Wilson led the way with the 10th-best time in program history (1:04.56) to win the race in a field of 22, while junior Chris Smith placed fourth (1:05.08). Smith punched his postseason ticket in the first meet of the season, the Crowell Open.

Smith teamed with Matt Green, Patrick Taylor and Stevyn Spees to win the 4x440-yard relay with a time of 3:19.75.

Senior tri-captain Kevin Russell, who qualified for the IC4As last week in the mile, met postseason standards in the 1,000-meter run on Saturday with his fifth-place time of 2:27.00.

A pair of other notable performances were by Mark Van Benschoten and Chris Kittle. Van Benschoten won the pole vault with a personal-best height of 4.60 meters, while Kittle recorded the highest heptathlon total since 2011 with his third-place total of 4704.

“We had some awfully impressive performances, it was a good day,” said Army head coach Troy Engle. “The women are starting to come along – we’re excited about the improvements we made. We’ve filled some holes with some newcomers – Morgan Rennekamp, who has a shot of placing in the conference meet in the multis; Haley Winters in the sprints. But I’m also impressed with our returners that are still young as well – Lisa Junta, Jennifer Comfort, Allie Sutherland.  I think we’re moving in the right direction.

“For the men, we competed very well,” Engle continued. “We got a chance to see where we might be able to use some people at Army-Navy in a couple weeks. We’re pleased with our progress towards our goals.

“The meet itself this weekend was a great, heated competition. It was extremely well-run meet and every race was good. We love the concept, the facility, and think it’s an appropriate level of competition for us. It was fun and everyone truly competed.”

Army will remain on the road for its next meet, the NYRR College Night at The Armory in New York City on Jan. 25. That meet marks the Black Knights’ final competition before the annual Army-Navy showdown which is set for Feb. 3 at West Point’s Gillis Field House.

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