By Scott Eddy, Assistant Sports Information Director
With the spring seasons in full swing for St. Bonaventure athletics, one newcomer joins the group for the first time in over two decades – track.
The newly formed men's and women's outdoor track teams are set for their first competition April 2 at the Geneseo Invite. The inaugural event for the new teams serves as a culmination of nearly two years worth of work following the June 2015 announcement of plans to add the program.
"We are going into the season to get everyone progressively stronger and better and put them in events they will hopefully have some success in at Atlantic 10 championships," head coach Bob MacFarlane said. "It is exciting to finally get out and compete. Everyone is excited and a little nervous; this is all brand new here."
For St. Bonaventure, it will mark the first time since 1990 that the Bonnies have offered a track program. The sport has a history at the University dating back to 1903. The sport was also offered from 1926-29, 1933, 1937, 1941, 1948-53 and 1968-90. This year will be the first season an outdoor distance only program has been offered.
"I think that it's great that we have the opportunity to be part of the resurrection of the track program," said sophomore Emily Izydorczak, the Bonnies' top women's cross country runner before suffering an injury late in the fall. "We not only are the pioneers, but we are also ready and able to start setting new records and new standards that will define our program."
The opportunity to be a part of laying the foundation for the next generation of St. Bonaventure track is a big reason the Bonnies are excited to finally get to work this weekend.
"To be a part of the resurrection is a big deal," said freshman Will Delaney, the leading Bonnies men's cross country runner last fall.
"Seeing a program like this grow and to be a part of it is thrilling," added sophomore Rachel Guyer.
The Bonnies plan on having men's and women's women's athletes compete in distance events including 400 meter hurdles, 800, 1,500 and 3,000 meters, 5K and 10K. Both teams will also compete in relay events.
Because the teams will just be taking part in distance track events – no members of the team will compete in field events – the Bonnies will be more focused on improving in individual events rather than scoring team points.
"We know we can't go into invitationals and expect to win; we don't have enough events spread out," MacFarlane said. "Many of our kids were their school's top runner in high school and when you would have a sectional or district meet teams would maximize those kids in three to four events to win the meet. We won't be doing that; we'll be trying to get each athlete to be the best they can be in one or two events," MacFarlane said.
Now, the Bonnies set their sights on posting fast times on the track. After the season-opening event at the Geneseo Early Season Invite April 2, the teams will take part in the Roc City Invite in Rochester on April 8 – events at the Cortland Invite (April 21), University at Buffalo Invitational (April 29) lead up to Atlantic 10 Championships set for Amherst, Mass. May 6-7.
"I am very excited to see how the teams will develop during this first track season," Izydorczak said. "In cross country, we all run the same event, but in track we will be split up. Some people will run mid-distance races while others prefer long-distance races. Track is a time to specialize in an event, and each member of our team is interested in different races, so I can't wait."
MacFarlane says the addition of track will improve St. Bonaventure's overall running program. With Bonnies now having the ability to compete in cross country during the fall and track during the spring, he believes not only will current athletes benefit, but that the Bonnies will be able to attract more athletes going forward.
"The recruits that we talk to are very excited about track. We are bringing in more high caliber athletes," MacFarlane said. "Hopefully we see a big difference in not only the track side but in cross country as well going forward."
"Track will definitely have a positive impact on our cross country season," freshman Donavan Lowe said. "The more running, the better. The year-round competition will add more to our racing experience which will translate to good execution in our races."
"Track season is a great opportunity to stay in shape year-round and having meets in the spring and times and goals to meet will help us stay motivated easier," Guyer added. "Before, we had to train almost a whole year between seasons which was mentally challenging after awhile."
And while the start of any new season brings excitement, the first event of the spring for Bonnies track will have an added significance as it starts a new era for the program.
"This is a big moment in St. Bonaventure athletics," Izydorczak added. "We are so lucky to be part of an amazing team that will help define our future as Bonnies."
For the latest news on St. Bonaventure athletics, stay connected on social media. Follow the Bonnies on Twitter @Go_Bonnies and get cross country and track updates @BonniesXCTrack. Keep up with the Bonnies on Facebook /GoBonnies and on Instagram @GoBonnies.