By Robert Kells, Staff Writer
*Photo provided by St. John Fisher athletic website.
Both the St. John Fisher men’s and women’s track programs have continued their prominence as consistent contenders in both the Empire 8 conference as well as nationally.
The Empire 8 track and field championships took place on Saturday, Feb. 11th in Utica, hosted by Utica College. It was overall a pretty successful weekend for both men’s and women’s teams, with the women’s team placing second overall, and the men’s team placing third overall.
It was a bit of a disappointment for the men after winning the championship in 2015 and finishing in second place in 2016. With that said, there were several standout performances by Fisher participants.
Lauren Wiard made a name for herself in her first ever Empire 8 championship. The freshman from Avon placed first overall in the long jump, and second overall in the 60-meter dash. Wiard’s long jump distance of 5.16 meters was good for an ECAC qualifying distance. The Cardinal’s 4×400 relay team, made up of sophomore Emily Strong, and seniors Sydney Saccone, Chelsea Cleveland finished second overall in 4:09:95.
On the men’s side, Peter Girardi continued his dazzling career for the Cardinals. In the 60-meter hurdle preliminary, Girardi recorded the fastest time of any Division III track athlete this season at a time of 8.15.
He went on to win the event in the finals with a time of 8.26. Girardi also recorded the fastest time in the nation in his 400 meter dash finishing in a blistering 48.84. The time smashed the facility record, and meet record in the process. This time is also an ECAC qualifying finish.
Girardi finished in second in his 200-meter dash, also recording an ECAC qualifying time. He was named the track athlete of the meet.
Junior Matt VanMarter also put on a show, this time in the field events. He finished first in the long jump, high jump, and triple jump, recording a personal best in his triple jump. VanMarter was named field athlete of the meet, ensuring two St. John Fisher athletes took home the two highest individual honors of the meet.
The following weekend, both the men’s and women’s teams competed at the Marc Deneault Invitational hosted by Cornell University on Saturday. The event featured top level track and field programs locally such as Syracuse, Cornell, and Buffalo.