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Spring-Summer 2000
Vol. 62, No. 3

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RUNNING FOR RECORDS AT ROCHESTER

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Record setters: Lamontagne, Leonard, Albert, and Coyles, flanked by coaches MacKenzie and Ford. When Rochester Review went to press, they had won both state and UAA indoor and outdoor titles and were awaiting word on a bid to compete in the nationals.

The members of the Rochester men's 4-by-400 meter relay team had one aim before they crossed the finish line for the 1998-99 indoor and outdoor track seasons: Get then seniors Chad Kreiley '99 and Mario Simpson '99 into the record books.

They did, but the pair held their place in Yellowjacket track history for not quite a year.

That's how long it took the 1999-2000 team of Jon Coyles '01, Sam Albert '01, Justin Lamontagne '02, and Damien Leonard '02 to set yet another new record this spring.

Record-setting glory is frequently fleeting in the world of track and field, but at Rochester during the past two seasons, the sprint relay records seem to be getting lapped with the regularity of a daily newspaper delivery.

"I knew the record was going to go down this year because Justin and Damien are so talented," says Coyles, a psychology and political science major from Horseheads, New York, who runs the anchor leg for the four-man team. "Sam and I are better this year, and so are Justin and Damien."

Coyles and Albert are returning members of the 1998-99 record-setting team. With the addition of Lamontagne, a psychology major from Portland, Maine, who runs the first leg, and Leonard, a history major from Wayland, Massachusetts, who typically runs in the third position, the team was out of the blocks quickly during the 1999-2000 indoor track season.

They won seven of their eight races, including the New York State championships and the UAA championship.

On February 12, they set the current school record for the relay with a 3:23.85 performance at the York (Ontario) Invitational. That topped the record set the year before by 0.8 of a second.

The 1,600-meter relay record had been one of the oldest records on the Rochester books, having stood for 17 years before the 1998-99 team broke the mark.

The 4-by-200 meter team of Leonard, Lamontagne, Coyles, and Chen Kenyon '01 also set a school record for the indoor 800-meter relay this year, turning in a time of 1:33.83.

Dick MacKenzie, Rochester men's track coach, says he and his staff, including assistant Mike Ford, assistant coach for sprinters and relays, have made the relays a team priority.

"Everybody wanted to see the records fall, even if they weren't members of the relay team," MacKenzie says.

He credits Ford, a former sprinter for Division I Baylor University, with instilling the sprinters with the confidence they needed to break the time barriers.

Ford says having half the 1,600-meter relay team return from last season made the transition smooth.

But the four speedsters who, Ford says, are evenly matched in talent, work well with each other, an important component in a relay team.

"You can have four guys who have great ability, but if they don't get along, they don't run well together," Ford says.

Albert, a double major in biology and in health and society from North Tonawanda, New York, who typically runs second, says he appreciates the added dynamics of running with a team.

"You know there are three guys to pick you up if you are a little off on a given day," Albert says. "But you always want to run well because the other guys are counting on you."

Last year's team also set a record for the outdoor 1,600-meter relay at 3:19.86, and this year's team had their sights on that record, too, when the season got under way in March.

But Coyles says the team wants to do more than shave additional seconds off their times this season.

"This year we can focus on other goals, like going to nationals," he says.

That doesn't mean that he wouldn't mind bumping the alumni out of the record books.

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