Stevens is Back on Track
TRACK RECORD: Sidelined by an injury last fall that kept him out of the NCAA cross-country championships, three time UAA Runner of the Week Mark Stevens ’08 has set lofty goals for the spring track season. Photo credit: Jamie Germano.
By October, the 2006 cross-country season was humming along quite nicely for Mark Stevens ’08. He had been named UAA Runner of the Week three times, and he won the UAA individual title at the association championships.
Then came the injuries.
In the week leading up to the New York State meet, Stevens twisted his ankle and was forced to alter his running mechanics to compensate.
He was able to run at States, but by the time the NCAA Atlantic Regionals rolled around in mid-November, the changes to his form had caused a severe strain in his quadriceps.
Even though he had qualified for the NCAA championships for the second year in a row, Stevens was forced to withdraw from the national event. (Teammate Patrick Hughes ’08 went to the NCAA meet in his place.)
Neer Wins No. 500
The new year brought a new number for men’s basketball coach Mike Neer: 500.
Neer earned his milestone 500th victory on January 5 when Rochester defeated 23rd-ranked Brandeis, 83-65, making Neer the coach with the greatest number of victories in University history.
Neer was recognized by the University with a special citation presented to him by President Joel Seligman in February.
It was a difficult blow for the accomplished distance runner, but Stevens adapted quickly—he took two weeks off and underwent therapy for the injury.
The rest worked wonders. By the middle of December, Stevens was 100 percent—he resumed running about 90 miles a week—and completely ready for the upcoming indoor and outdoor track seasons.
“It fueled me up,” Stevens said of the disappointing injury. “It’s going to be a good (track) season.”
Men’s track and cross-country coach John Izzo says that discipline has served Stevens well during his Rochester career.
“He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever coached, and I’ve been coaching for 40 years,” Izzo says. “But he’s also extremely talented. When you put the two together, it usually spells success.”
But Izzo adds that Stevens hasn’t let that success go to his head.
“He’s probably the most humble star athlete I’ve ever coached,” he says. “He’s all about the team. He wants the team to do well.”
The Yellowjackets almost didn’t have Stevens on the team. The native of Pittsford, N.Y., initially enrolled at Cornell University but transferred to Rochester when he ended up not liking the Ivy League school very much.
He eventually settled on economics as a major, and after what he calls “a few rocky semesters,” Stevens entered the 2006–07 year with a GPA of 3.49—and a passionate love for the University.
“When I first came here I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” he says. “I never thought I’d like school as much as I do now. It’s definitely broadened my view.”
And, after taking heavy classloads in the spring, summer, and fall of 2006, Stevens now has a lighter academic schedule, which gives him more time and energy to concentrate on running.
“I couldn’t ask for a better situation,” he says.
Stevens and Izzo expect the junior will focus primarily on the mile during the track seasons, and Stevens has set some lofty goals.
“I think I have a shot to be in the top three at NCAAs, and maybe win it on a good day,” he says.
That wouldn’t surprise Izzo, who says Stevens has an innate drive to be the best runner he can.
“It just comes from within,” the coach says. “He wants to be good, and he makes sure he does the right things to make that happen.”
And if that means taking a couple weeks off to rehab an aching ankle and quad, so be it. It would take more than sore muscles to keep Stevens off the track.
—By Ryan Whirty
Whirty writes about sports for Rochester Review.
Swimming & Diving
Men Take First Liberty Title
Rochester’s Bruce Maki ’09 won three individual events as the Yellowjacket men won their first Liberty League title in swimming and diving.
Maki, who also was named the league’s Male Swimmer of the Year, won the 500-meter freestyle (4:50.03), the 400-meter intermediate medley (4:17.39), and the 1650-meter freestyle (16:39.01) at the conference championships in December. He also was second in the 200-meter butterfly (2:02.26).
For the women, Kari Joyce ’07 also won the 500-meter freestyle (5:15.89), the 200-meter freestyle (1:58.54), and the 100-meter freestyle (0:54.43), in helping the Rochester team take second place at the league championships.
Joyce also swam the leadoff leg for the the 200-meter freestyle relay that set a league record of 1:41.36. Joining her were Nora Hoefer ’10, Jill Endres ’09, and Karen Gromer ’07. The foursome also won the 400-meter freestyle (3:43.39).
The men finished the regular season with seven straight dual meet victories for a final record of 7–1.
The women finished at 5–3.