WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – Freshman Ryan Escoda (Newtown) has become the first Eastern Connecticut State University male track & field athlete to be voted as a Little East Conference major award-winner more than once when he repeated as LEC Rookie Track Athlete-of-the-Year. Escoda is recipient of the outdoor award after earning the identical honor during the indoor season. The major awards are voted upon by the conference’s eight head coaches.
It marks the 12th year that the conference has voted upon major awards, with Escoda becoming only the second male to win the rookie track award both indoors and outdoors (following Alex MacMillan of UMass Dartmouth in 2016).
As a repeater, Escoda becomes the men’s program’s fourth LEC major track award-winner, following All-America Lee Cattanach in the indoor season of 2014/15 and Corey Simpson in the outdoor season of 2011. Both were voted as Track Athletes-of-the-Year.
During the outdoor season, Escoda was selected Rookie Track Athlete-of-the-Week three times in seven weeks (with teammate Rahman Oteng winning the award three times). Outdoors, Escoda ran the 800, 1500, 3000 steeplechase and 5000.
Escoda began his outdoor career in the steeplechase by winning the event at the Ursinus College Outdoor Invitational in late March and followed up three weeks later by clocking a winning time of 9:40.77 at the Southern New Hampshire University Penmen Relays which broke the ten-year-old record by eight seconds. At the New England Alliance Championships, he was the top freshman finisher in both the steeplechase (third overall) and 1500 (fourth overall) and capped his first season with a 16th-place finish (9:59.84) at the New England Division III Championships at Williamstown, MA.
In addition to winning the steeplechase at Ursinus, Escoda was also fourth in a field of 55 in the 1500. Other highlights during the outdoor season included placing fifth among 51 in the 800 at UMass Dartmouth and winning the 5000 at the Eastern Invitational.
During the indoor season, Escoda was named Rookie Track Athlete-of-the-Week six times in 11 weeks. He primarily ran the mile and 3000, placing second in both the LEC and New England Alliance tabulations in the 3000 and third in the LEC and New England Alliance in the mile at the championship meet Feb. 16. He qualified for the New England Division III Championships at 3000 meters last at MIT, clocking a PR of 8:49.96, which is just a half-second off Cattanach’s program indoor record. Escoda’s PR in the mile came Feb. 9 with a time of 4:27.76 at the Yale University Invitational.
During the indoor season, Escoda won the mile twice and the 3000 once. He won the mile at Rhode Island College Dec. 8 and at Springfield College Jan. 26 and trumped the field and qualified for the New England meet in his collegiate debut in the 3000 at the UMass Boston Indoor Open Dec. 1.
Escoda’s success in track & field this year followed an outstanding cross country season where he ran as the Warriors’ No. 1 runner in all seven meets. He began the cross country season by taking 14th in a field of 91 at the Fitchburg State University Jim Sheehan Memorial Alumni Invitational in his running debut, placed 16th in a field of 81 at the Little East Conference Championships and 76th among 391 at the New England Regionals. During the season, he was also fifth among 140 at the Gordon College Invitational and won the CCRI Tri-State Invitational by outrunning a field of 63 other competitors.
Little East Conference
Men’s Track & Field Individual Major Award-Winners
Rookie Track 2019 Outdoor Ryan Escoda Fr. Newtown
Rookie Track 2018/19 Indoor Ryan Escoda Fr. Newtown
Athlete 2014/15 Indoor Lee Cattanach Jr. New London
Athlete 2011 Outdoor Corey Simpson So. Norwich