Q & A With Behrend Track and Field Coach Greg Cooper
What are your thoughts on your team beginning your season in Florida and the Salisbury and Coastal Carolina Events?
The team performed really well at both the Salisbury and Coastal Carolina meets. We had school records broken in both cases, and ECAC qualifiers in both meets. The training was excellent, the team bonded well, and it was great to be on a track for the first time this year. I think the athletes were ready to go, and for as much traveling as we did, I thought they responded well to the meets.
How does this compare to last season's start?
Many of our athletes performed better than they did at their first or second meets last year. I feel like our team will go with confidence into their first competitions North of the Mason Dixon this year because of how well they performed and were able to prepare in the warmer climate.
Who is performing particularly well for the team right now?
Mike Stark's performance of 15.19 seconds in the 110 hurdles in the first meet was by far the best by any Behrend athlete ever except for Isiah Meek and qualified him for the ECAC championships. He followed that up a week later by clearing 14' 7.25" tying him for the third best vaulting performance of all time. Denny King also cleared 14' 7.25" at the second meet and both athletes qualified for the ECAC championship meet in May. For the women, Jenna Fatica won the 1500m, and event she had never run before, at the first meet, and is looking strong. Katie Monoskey and John Bowman had record setting days in the hammer throw, Justin DiPenti shattered a six year old record in the 3000m, and we had impressive performances from freshmen Dylan Beck, Craig Webb, and Victoria Harwood.
What is the focus on for the next couple weeks of training and competition?
We tread the fine line between staying healthy and trying to get better in the next few weeks. Our next competition is March 26-27 at Wheeling, WV, followed by Washington and Jefferson Invitational, two meets where our men's team has taken first or second in each of the last two years. We look forward to competing well there once again.
How does the conference look this season? How do you think you will do against conference competition?
The conference will be strong once again this season. We did see a preview of one of the top 25 teams in the country who is in our conference in Salisbury University. They are strong across the board in both men's and women's competition. Christopher Newport will also be strong once again. I feel like this is a year we can compete well though, and perhaps win a few events that people wouldn't expect us to win.
What are your expectations for the end of the season and championships?
Championships season is what track and field is all about. We will be focused and our training will have the athletes ready for the end of the year. I fully believe we can have our first All-America honoree this year, and I think when the lid comes off, we'll have many more.