Track and field teams take down the Titans in dual meet


Mary Mitchell

The Golden Grizzlies defeated rivals University of Detroit Mercy in its first outdoor home meet of the season.

Track and field had its first home outdoor track meet of the season on Saturday, April 8.  The Golden Grizzlies hosted rival University of Detroit Mercy in the annual Detroit Dual meet.  Both the men’s and women’s teams emerged victorious over the Titans.

The second consecutive sweep in this meet for the Golden Grizzlies came with many first-place and record-breaking performances. Gino Vitella broke the school and meet record in shot put, throwing a distance of 58 feet, 8.75 inches.

“The success of this season is a result of me learning from the previous seasons,” Vitella said.  “I’ve been through a lot of meets where I didn’t get a valid throw, and I had to figure out what went wrong and correct it.  I’ve also come a long way in learning how to compete and figuring out the little things to correct in my technique.”

Vitella also broke the meet record in discus, throwing 170 feet, 3 inches.  Many other Golden Grizzlies followed suit with first-place finishes.  Bryce Stroede and Rachel Levy placed first in the 3,000m and set new school and meet records with times of 8:26.01 and 9:43.88, respectively.

Dana Tessmer got first place and set a meet and school record in pole vault with a height of 11 feet, 5.75 inches, while Austin Dawn set a meet record in the 800m with a time of 1:54.09.

Additionally, George O’Connor took home first in the mile with 4:14.27, Ashley Burr won first in the 1,500m with 4:43.98 and Nicole Martinbianco finished first in the 100m dash with a time of 12.64.

In field events, Angela Ciaravino picked up two first-place finishes in high jump and javelin with 5 feet, 3 inches and 99 feet, respectively.

The meet was special to the athletes because not only was it an opportunity to play at home, it was also senior day.  The men’s team’s 13 seniors and the women’s team’s 16 seniors were honored before the meet.

“It was a bittersweet moment to think that this was my last senior night ever, but I honestly wouldn’t want to be a part of any other senior class,” Vitella said.  “I have a lot of memories with this group through the four years we’ve been here that will last a lifetime.  We have an extremely talented group that practically molded this program into what it has become.”

Head coach Paul Rice spoke to the importance of being able to honor the seniors at home before the event.

“That was really the most important part of the day for me,” Rice said in the post-meet GrizzVision interview.  “It’s a huge group of seniors, and it was great to get an opportunity to honor them and recognize them . . . it was a great day all around.”

Home meets were not something these seniors got to experience in their first year as Golden Grizzlies.  The track and field facility used now did not exist until the 2015 outdoor season.

“It’s a whole different feeling, being able to wake up and walk right to the meet and compete in a place where I’ve been practicing for a long time,” Vitella said. “When you’re at home, you have a certain feel for the facilities, and there is an extra level of comfort that comes when you’ve been practicing in the same shot put, discus or hammer ring your entire career. Home-court advantage exists in track and field, too.”

Rice reiterated the same sentiments about competing at home, noting that having the crowd makes the experience more fun for the athletes, as well.

“The great thing about home meets is that your athletes get to perform in front of their home crowd,” Rice said.  “That’s something that we really relish now in our third year in this facility.”

The teams return for one more home meet of the 2017 outdoor season next week as they host the Golden Grizzly Invite April 14-15.