|Manhattan Seeks Redemption at MAAC Outdoor Championships|
RIVERDALE, N.Y. - For the first time in the history of the meet, neither the men's nor the women's team from Manhattan College enters the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Outdoor Track & Field Championships as the defending champions. The Jasper men saw their 13-year winning streak come to an end last year, when they finished second to Rider, while the women's squad was second behind Saint Peter's in 2011.
Both programs have a chance to regain the title this weekend, as the MAAC Outdoor Championships return to the Rider University Track & Field Complex. Competition gets underway at 4 p.m. on Saturday and continues on Sunday at 11 a.m.
"We want to go and see if we can win this championship back," Head Coach Dan Mecca said. "I thought the team competed very well overall indoors. Both men and women."
Manhattan won the indoor title on the men's side, and the Jaspers bring a deep, talented squad into the Outdoor Championships. The Jaspers hope to get out to an early advantage in Saturday's field events-the hammer throw, javelin and long jump.
Anastas Papazov (Balchik, Bulgaria) is coming off a victory in the men's hammer throw Championship of America last weekend at the Penn Relays, while Roman Ewald (Olching, Germany) was the Co-Most Outstanding Performer for Field Events at last year's MAAC Championships after taking first in the hammer throw to go along with second-place finishes in the shot put and discus. Defending champion Albert Johnson III (Painted Post, N.Y.) is the top seed in the long jump, and Phil Ragan (Belmar, N.J.) set a school record in the javelin earlier this season.
Big points are also expected in the field events scheduled for Sunday. Ewald and Rokas Kirlys (Kamaji, Lithuania) are seeded 1-2 in both the shot put and discus. Brian McGovern (Yonkers, N.Y.) in the best pole vaulter in the conference, while decathlete Felix Siljeback-Larsen (Vasteras, Sweden) will contest five different individual events, and is capable of scoring in each.
On the track, the Jaspers will rely on Kevin D'Emic (Rockaway Point, N.Y.), Greg Perrier (Dix Hills, N.Y.) and Mikael Rojeras (Sala, Sweden) in the distance events, as well as sprinters Abdias Myrtil (Wheatley Heights, N.Y.) and Sheldon Derenoncourt (Patchogue, N.Y.).
"On the men's side, we want to make sure we go and do the best we can to win this outdoor championship back," Mecca said. "We're looking towards some of our older guys to be leaders, and some of our younger guys to all step up and help us basically all over. Our program has always been a broad-based program trying to score in every event."
The women's team is led by sprinters Cara Rostant (Valley Stream, N.Y.), Heidy Palacios (Yonkers, N.Y.) and Ashley Bowman (Elmont, N.Y.). Rostant, the Most Outstanding Performer for Track Events at the 2012 MAAC Indoor Championships, is seeded first in both the 200 and 400 meters. Along with Ieva Vitola (Jekabpils, Latvia), the trio make up Manhattan's 4 x 100 meter relay squad that boasts the best time in the conference this season.
Doreen Horschig (Lumpzig, Germany) and Andrea Nyback (Koping, Sweden) will both be busy over the next two days, contesting the same four events. Nyback, who set a school record in the heptathlon earlier this season, shared Most Outstanding Performer for Field Events at the indoor meet with teammate Karolin Wagner (Ribbesbuettel, Germany), the top seed in the pole vault.
Wagner looks to lead a Manhattan sweep in the women's pole vault, as Sarah Moore (Irvington, N.Y.) and Melissa Yap (Orchard Park, N.Y.) are seeded second and third in the event. Jordan Rand (Colorado Springs, Colo.), who missed the Indoor Championships with an injury, is a contender in both the long jump and triple jump.
"On the women's side, we also look for some of our younger athletes to contribute," Mecca said. "Some of our sprinters have been very strong, and we also have some strong contenders in the middle distance events."
The men's meet is expected to be a close competition between the Jaspers and defending champion Rider, while Saint Peter's is favored to repeat as women's champions. On the women's side, the top eight finishers in each event earn team points (10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1). The men's meet is scored to six places (10-8-6-4-2-1)."I think the men and women both have the potential of coming down to the (4 x 400) relay," Mecca said. "But that can change during the meet. It's happened often enough. If our kids go out and compete the way they're capable of, we'll do very well."