At last weekend’s America East Indoor Championship for track and field, the athletes of Stony Brook University brought it. Four athletes qualified for the 60-meter final, with Akajia Atkins and Dana Cerbone finishing third and fourth. Junior Amanda Stead won the 200-meter dash. Freshman Nadja Ashley placed second in the 400 meters and garnered Rookie of the Meet honors.
The Seawolves have been showing their strength in the relays as well. The 4×400 team gave St. John’s a ferocious challenge and Millrose Games and ran a strong relay at the conference championships, placing a close second.
Howard Powell, assistant coach for sprints, jumps and hurdles, said the 4×400 team is filled with talent and stellar work ethic. The relay is comprised of one senior, two juniors and a freshman.
“We’ve developed a system of trust and belief in each other,” said Powell, a graduate of Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn. “They work out together daily. They practice together. They have a sense of understanding of how each other functions. If one is not having a good day, the others know how to make an adjustment within the race. On paper they may not be the best, but they show up and kick butt.”
Powell works with the sprinters on their speed and technique, with no detail overlooked. There is also strength work. Powell said they still have a long way to go, but they’re on the right track for success. The women’s program finished third overall at the America East Championship.
Stony Brook student-athletes are not only driven in their sport, but also in the classroom. Powell was a student-athlete at Wheaton College, where he excelled in the classroom, and began his collegiate coaching career at Williams College, so the intellectual level of the Seawolves feels natural for him.
“I have an understanding what they bring to the team,” said Powell. “I understand how they think. For these student-athletes, you can tell when I give them instructions at practice, you can see them internalizing it and breaking it down step-by-step and then applying it to their race. Each rep that we do, they are consistently evolving and learning.”
At meets, he sometimes has to remind them to not overthink things. “When you do all the preparation, when you go to the meet, it’s all about just getting on the line and competing,” Powell said.
Next up for Stony Brook are the ECAC/IC4A Indoor Championships, which start on March 7.