March 4, 2015

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UMass impressive in Boston, look to to Giegengack on Saturday

In their biggest meet of the season thus far, the Massachusetts men’s track and field team finished fourth overall out of 18 teams in Boston over the weekend.

The Minutemen were led by junior Sean Busch, who took first place in the pole vault, while setting a UMass record in the process. Busch reached a height of 15 feet, five inches, good for second-all time in school history, ensuring himself a trip to the New England championship in the pole vault event.

For the third straight week, junior Darius Velez and senior Tyler Cotto finished first in their events. Velez won the 55-meter dash in 6.48 seconds and Cotto finished first in the 55-meter hurdles with a time of 7.6 seconds.

In addition to Busch, the Minutemen were able to qualify an additional six members for the New England championship at the end of the season. In the 500-meter dash, Joseph Doyle placed fifth by running it in one minute, six secnods. Junior Scott VanderMolen also qualified in his second event this season, this time adding the 800-meter. He finished in one minute, 55 seconds and has now qualified in both the 800-meter and the mile run. Finally, in the 4×400-meter relay, Andrew O’Donnell, Zachary Koncki, Michael McDonough and Daniel Schwartz combined for second place with their time of 3:22.

The Minutemen will travel to New Haven, Conn. on Friday for the first time this season. There they will compete in the Giegengack Invitational, a two-day event which concludes Saturday.

The Massachusetts women’s track and field team came away with third place overall in a field of 17 teams in Boston over the weekend,

Senior Lisa Wilson paced the team for a second straight week, contributing 15 of the Minutewomen’s 82 points. In the shot put, she took first place with her mark of 45-00.50, good enough for sixth place in the event. She later added a fourth place finish in the weight throw with a mark of 54-02.75.

“Lisa led us last year, and she has continued to pace us this year,” UMass coach Julie LaFreniere said. “She has done extremely well so far this season. When she’s not setting personal or UMass records, she’s within an inch or so away. The weight throw has been her nemesis in the past, but not anymore.”

The UMass relay teams delivered impressive performances. In the 4×400-meter relay, Brittany Bakanowski, Michelle Jenssen, Holly Heinricher and Erica Unger combined to finish in second place with a time of 3:55. Also in the distance medley, the team of Karen Roa, Sarah Kelley, Courtney Baldwin and Gina Perno crossed the finish line in 12:06, good enough for second place and a trip to the ECAC championship at the end of the season.

“Courtney and Karen have been outstanding,” LaFreniere said. “Courtney anchored the medley for us this time around, and the rest of the team had great performances all around.”

After rigorous training this past week in practice, LaFreniere said she was somewhat surprised to see her team respond so well in competition.

“I kind of beat them up this past week,” said LaFreniere. “We’re trying to get them used to competing when they’re tired. We’re aiming for Atlantic 10’s. I didn’t expect some of them to bounce back and set personal or school bests, and to see them react so well is encouraging.”

The Minutewomen will again travel with the men’s team, heading to Giegengack Invitational on Friday.

Michael Wood can be reached at mcwood@student.umass.edu.

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