Cotto, Auquo and Okkonen lead UM track and field
The Massachusetts track and field teams had a strong showing over the weekend at the Atlantic 10 conference championship.
In Kingston, R.I., the men’s team tallied 68 points and finished in fifth place out of 12 teams in the two-day event, improving on their seventh place finish from last season.
The top performers for the Minutemen were upperclassmen who had the experience necessary to gain an edge over the rest of the field. Scott VanderMolen finished second overall in the 1000-meter run with a time of 2:27.39 minutes, and was named to the All-Conference team. He will also compete in the 1000-meter run next weekend in the New England Championship and the Eastern College Athletic Conference championship.
In the 55-meter hurdles, Tyler Cotto continued his dominance in the event, taking third place with a time of 7.62 seconds. He has already qualified for the IC4A and New England championships this season, while setting a school record in the 55-meter hurdles earlier in the year.
Other leaders for UMass included Daniel Schwartz and Chris Dzidek, who took fourth and fifth in their respective events with over 4,000 points each in the first ever heptathlon event – a contest with seven events – in A-10 history.
The Minutewomen were also in competition in Kingston, R.I. over the weekend, and finished seventh out of 12 teams. Like their male counterparts, they relied on strong performances from their seasoned veterans to carry them through the tournament.
Leading the way for UMass were upperclassmen Stephanie Aguguo and Ida Okkonen, repeating their impressive performances from last year’s tournament. Aguguo took fifth place in the triple jump and improved the third-best mark in school history that she set last year. Okkonen followed suit by placing sixth in the same event, and qualifying for the New England championship. Her mark of 30-01.25 feet puts her right behind Aguguo at fourth on the all-time school record list.
Also turning in a strong performance for the Minutewomen was freshman Courtney Baldwin, who continues to improve her already impressive first season. Baldwin took fourth in the mile run with her time of 4:58.49 minutes.
Rounding out the scoring for UMass women were Lisa Wilson, who placed fifth in the shot put with a distance of 44-08.25 feet, Holly Heinricher finished seventh in the 200-meter dash, and Gina Perno who took seventh in the 800-meter run.
Both teams will head back to Boston for the fourth time this weekend when they compete in the New England Championship on Friday and Saturday.
Michael Wood can be reached at email@example.com.