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Indoor Track Returns To Armory For Columbia Invitational

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Indoor Track Returns To Armory For Columbia Invitational

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ALBANY, N.Y. – For the second time in three weeks, the University at Albany men’s and women’s indoor track teams will compete at the Armory in New York City.  This weekend, the Danes are entered in the Columbia Lions Invitational, where they will compete against a handful of teams from the east coast.

The meet this weekend marks a return for the track team to a banked track, after having competed at Cornell’s Barton Hall, which features a flat track, at last weekend’s Upstate Challenge.  The meet at Cornell was the first time in several years that UAlbany had competed on a standard flat track, and was added to the schedule this year to take advantage of new conversion calculations between different indoor facility setups.  So, while a flat track may produce slower times than a banked or an oversized track, athletes and coaches no longer have to worry about having their best race come on a theoretically slower track construction.

But a return to what is considered one of the fastest tracks in the country is likely welcome, as the Armory will not only host the America East Indoor Championships this season, but also serves as a home away from home for the UAlbany program, which has hosted a meet there each of the last twelve seasons.  The meet on Saturday kicks off the first of potentially four consecutive trips to the Armory, with the Collegiate Invitational next week, the Millrose Games on February 14-15 (or the Division I Invitational in Ohio), and finally America East Championships February 23-24.

“We’re really in what I call the gauntlet part of the season,” said assistant coach Matt Jones.  “We’re training and racing, and not really resting.  We’ll rest as we prepare for conference championships, but for now, we’re not fully recovered.”

“We’re not at the peaking phase of the training yet,” Jones continued.  “It’s still developmental, trying to build strength and endurance.”

The Columbia Invitational will only field teams from eight schools, including UAlbany, and one club.  The schedule suggests the meet will run quickly, anticipating a conclusion of events about four hours after the meet starts.

“This week, we’re again training out athletes to come back quickly after a hard effort,” said Jones.  “We have Kathryn Fanning in the mile, and an hour later I’m asking her to come back and race a fast 800, to get some overspeed work in.  So the idea is to run one fast event, and come back and do good work at the end of the meet.  Next week, at Collegiate, will be more of a dress rehearsal for conferences.  The meet takes place over two days, so we’ll be looking for our athletes to acclimate themselves to that type of schedule.  In a sense, we’re teaching to the test.”

The primary goal for the UAlbany athletes is to continue accumulating IC4A and ECAC qualifying times as well as America East Championship seed times.  For those athletes who have already satisfied championship standards, the goal is to try to hit qualifying marks in secondary and tertiary events.  Having multiple athletes qualify in multiple events presents a desirable level of flexibility for the coaches to piece together the best lineup possible come championship season.

“We’ve worked through this week a little bit, because we have to with Collegiate coming up,” said Jones.  “I think the teams we’re facing this week aren’t necessarily as deep as what we’ll see at Collegiate, which brings in the best teams from across the country like Texas, Oregon, and Texas A&M, but we’re expecting quality competition at the top, and competitive heats for each of our athletes.”

“Plus, the four-hour meet is nice,” Jones continued.  “Last weekend we had an eight-hour meet, and we left early and returned late.  Hopefully this week we’ll get a nice break from that schedule, and maybe not get back quite so late.”

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