Tony Alfonso ’24
After the retirement of a director of a program who had been coaching for 52 years, one would immediately see the potential for a seismic, negative shift in the program’s success. This is especially considering that right before he retired, Jim Kavanagh said that “My blood is purple.” There aren’t many sentiments that are stronger than that one. Fortunately, he had a successor with the same mindset.
Coach Kavanagh witnessed the new director—Egetta Alfonso—run for the Holy Cross women’s track and field team back in the late 80s, early 90s. He witnessed her leadership as a co-captain. Then he saw that leadership firsthand when Alfonso became one of his coaches 23 seasons ago, coaching individual Patriot league champions, Patriot League Honor roll students, academic all Patriot League selections, and Academic All-Americans. Alfonso’s coaching clearly bleeds well beyond the track, and in her first indoor season as director, the program hasn’t missed a beat.
The women’s team had the highest finish in program history at the New England Championship. This year’s women’s team may be too loaded to give everyone their props, but I can at least try to mention all of the highlights of the meet. Sophomore Ella Grey and freshman Celia Kulis both had their usual very good performances in the 60 meter hurdles, with Grey crossing the line in 8.89 for a second place finish and Kulis crossing at 9.03 with a solid fourth place finish. Kulis also finished seventh in the pentathlon, scoring two big points for the crusaders. Jane Feeney scored a massive 8 points for the Crusaders in the pentathlon with a second place finish of 3238 points. Senior pole vaulting extraordinaire Annie Lineberger won with a school record tying 3.95 meter jump. Another school record holder, senior Obiamaka Igwenagu, won the triple jump with a mark that was a mere one centimeter away from her own record. She also came in second in the long jump.
Sophomore Abby Hughes finished fifth in the mile. The usually stout senior Kate Ashley upped her game at New Englands with a season best 57.15. Young gun freshmen Fiona Doherty and Alex Lusby both had really good performances; Doherty finished third in the 800m with a time of 2:17.40, and Lusby finished fifth in the 1000m, crossing the finish line at 3:00.20. Senior Eve Feuerbach won the 3k and set yet another new school record with a stunning 9:45.88. Count ‘em: that’s three school record holders on the same team, folks! And to cap it off, the women’s 4×400 and 4×800 relay teams had very solid showings. I’d say that the women’s team isn’t too bad this year.
The men’s team can also boast about a recently shattered record. Chris Barone tied Kalif Raymond’s (yes, NFL All-Pro Kalif Raymond’s) 60 meter dash school record of 6.92 while at New Englands. Mike Mazzoca also performed well, coming off being injured for most of the season. In the 60 meter hurdles he had a time of 8.21, and in the high jump, he pounced to the tune of 2.00 meters, giving him a second place finish. Freshman Nyeoti Punni had a solid 22.65 performance in the 200. The middle distance group had a very good weekend. Steve Joseph ran his best 800 time of the season (1:57.97). Jack Welch and Kyle VanDermark, who both have had stellar seasons, each qualified for the 1000 meter final with the very similar times of 2:31.83 and 2:31.33, respectively. Those two, along with Joseph and Andrew Van de Mark, did well enough in the 4×800 meter relay to qualify them for the IC4As. Then, the 4×400 team of senior Sean Flaherty, sophomore Aiden Bergin, junior Mathew Conway, and sophomore Brian Fennelly came up with a very impressive performance, considering that they ran the best 4×400 time of the Crusader’s season with two runners, Bergin and Fennelly, who previously hadn’t run a single 400 in their college careers. That 4×400 relay showed a lot about the overall grit and flexibility of the Holy Cross team. These are traits that a really good track and field program absolutely has to have for it to be successful. For something like that to be shown in the first year of having a new director at the helm makes the future of the program seem promising, and if the Crusaders put up a solid performance at the upcoming Patriot League Championships on February 25th and 26th in Annapolis, that should bring confidence for years to come.
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