SMITHFIELD, R.I. -- The Bryant University track & field teams head to Staten Island, New York, to compete in the 2018 Northeast Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships held in the Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex. The meet will span two days, beginning on Feb. 16, and ending the following day.
"I'm pretty excited for what the team will be able to accomplish," Bryant head track & field coach Mitchell Switzer said. "This year, we've seen a very large shift in how the team competes and how the team approaches each and every meet we go to. Every single time, we go to step off the bus, they show up with a purpose. You see throughout the course of the day that every athlete is invested in each other. I think that energy and that excitement is going to be what drives the team to be successful this weekend"
Ask any member of the team and they will say that this year's Bulldog squad has a different feel, a different vibe. They're more locked in at practice, more cohesive as a unit.
"At practice, you can tell that everyone is putting all of their efforts in at all times," junior Alec Binette (Glastonbury, Conn.) said. "No one is slacking or anything like that."
"When we're at practice, having people that know what you're doing and that understand what's going on is really motivating because they can cheer for you," sophomore Emily Cluck (Johnson City, N.Y.) said.
That togetherness has the Bulldogs primed and ready to go at the NEC Championships. 15 Bulldogs have a top-10 conference time or distance heading into the two-day event. Senior Melissa Lodge (Hopkinton, Mass.) has the best overall time in the mile. She also teamed up with sophomores Jacklyn Sullivan (Plymouth, Mass.), Olivia Weiss (Newton, N.J.), and Cluck for the fastest distance medley relay time in the league by nearly 34 seconds.
On the men's side, Ryan Poholek (North Attleboro, Mass.) set the school record in the mile previously this season and has the third-fastest time in the event of NEC competitors with a time of 4:11.55. Freshman Chris Fasano (Lake Grove, N.Y.) broke the school record in the shot put and has the third-best distance in the conference, 15.03 meters.
But what happened earlier in the season doesn't matter anymore. The team has focused its attention on the championships.
"If I want to break the school record, that's cool, but it doesn't mean that I'm going to place top-three in the conference," Cluck said. "We want to strive to get better and strive to get the best times and get into the best position for conference."
"We all just have the same goal in mind," Binette said. "We just want to do our best and help the team out."
Friday, the team will look to achieve their goals. When the dust settles on Saturday, Coach Switzer thinks the team will be satisfied with the results the Bulldogs earn.
"I think we're going to walk away with a very positive mindset knowing that we showed up and that we outperformed as a team," Switzer said. "To me, that's all you can ask for. This team is very capable of doing that."