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updated: 5/7/2014 10:36 PM

Harper ready to make its point(s) at nationals

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  • Harper College's national qualifiers in men's and women's track and field get started with events Thursday in Utica, N.Y.

      Harper College's national qualifiers in men's and women's track and field get started with events Thursday in Utica, N.Y.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

By Jonathan Cregier

In the upcoming argument over who are the top National Junior College Athetic Association track and field teams in the country, it comes down to just how well Harper College scores it's points.

Because just 1 point could be the difference between winning a title and coming home without a trophy.

"That point might be the national championship," said Harper College men's and women's track coach Renee Zellner. "It's about the team. Everyone's trying to score points."

Another large group of Hawks athletes have qualified to this year's NJCAA Division III national meet, which begins Thursday at Mohawk Valley in Utica, N.Y. The meet concludes on Saturday.

One Hawk to keep on eye on is sprinter Stephanie Hurwitz. Her planned peak for the biggest meet of the season is right on schedule due mainly, Zellner says, to the hard work she's put in.

Going into the meet, the women's team is looking for big things from distance standouts Lori Delfin and Mary Piltaver. A unique distance event, the steeplechase, will be handled by Kaila Privatsky.

"They all have opportunities to do well," Zellner said.

The Hawks look to be strong in the relays as well, which would be key in the point tally. Another point of emphasis is in diversity of strength across a wide range of events.

"In track," said Zellner, "you have to have a lot of events covered."

One athlete covering a lot of them for the men's team is sprinter Ernest Downing. He qualified in five events.

Zellner is not relying on any one area for points, but has high expectations for the group as a whole.

"Everyone is important," she said. "They all have to score points."

Three members of the men's track team have already won national titles this school year -- Nick Modlin (steeplechase, 5,000m), Zach Stella (800, 1500) and Juan Barajas (5,000, 10,000) were members of the NJCAA Divsion III championship men's cross country team in the fall, which won it's second straight national crown.

"They continue to work hard and drop time," Zellner said.

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