Heading into the third week of competition, the Massachusetts track and field teams will travel to the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Roxbury, Mass. on Friday for the annual Reebok Boston Indoor Games.
The meet on Friday offers UMass a chance to compete against the top 10-12 teams on the east coast, and then the spectacle changes over to an international competition involving athletes with Olympic hopes on Saturday and Sunday.
Men’s coach Ken O’Brien says his team is excited to perform on the same stage as Olympic athletes and gain valuable experience and tips from watching them train.
“We’ve done the Boston Games for about the last ten years or so,” O’Brien said. “It has always been great for us because not only do we get to compete against the best in the east on Friday, but then the rest of the weekend is spent watching gold medalists train for the Olympics. Our guys couldn’t be more excited.”
Coming off an impressive third place finish at Rhode Island last weekend, the Minutemen will look to build off their performances thus far.
Leading UMass last week at URI was junior sprinter Darius Velez, who secured his place in the record books with his time of 6.39 in the 55-meter dash. His mark not only places him second all-time in school history, but second in the Atlantic 10 this season. Velez also qualified for both the New England and Eastern College Athletic Conference Championships at the end of the season.
Strong performances from seniors Tyler Cotto and Daniel Barry, as well as freshman Nick Otis, add depth and versatility to the Minutemen, allowing them to contend in every event they enter. Otis and Cotto each finished second in their event while Barry qualified for ECACs with a time of 4:14.46 in the mile run, good enough for first place.
“I’m very happy with the guys so far this season,” O’Brien said. “This weekend is one more chance for the entire team to improve and get some experience and versatility before we really get going in the spring.”
The women’s team will be joining the men in Boston on Friday. After a fifth place finish last week, the Minutewomen are set to compete in Boston and are looking to capitalize on early momentum by some of their fast-starters.
Senior thrower Lisa Wilson set two school records last week, one in the weight throw and the other in the shot put, which she previously set this season. Both marks qualified her for the New England and ECAC Championships.
Also leading the Minutewomen thus far have been the performances by the youngest members of the team, freshmen Courtney Baldwin, Nalis Mbianda and Nicole Pompei.
In her first meet as a collegiate athlete, Mbianda placed fourth in the shot put and qualified for the ECAC Championships. Had it not been for Wilson’s record-setting throw, Mbianda would have set a UMass record for the shot put in her first event.
Pompei came away with first place in the pole vault and earned A-10 Rookie Performer of the week honors in only her second meet.
In the 1000-meter distance run, Baldwin finished second and has now qualified for ECACs in both the 1000-meter and the mile run.
The Boston Indoor Games are set to begin Friday, Jan. 29 at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center.
Michael Wood can be reached at email@example.com.