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Track and Field head to Boston for NEC’s

After placing fifth and seventh respectively at the Atlantic 10 Championships, several members of the men and women’s indoor track teams will head to Boston, Mass. to compete in this year’s New England Championships.

The meet will take place at Boston University’s Track and Tennis Center on Friday and Saturday, and will feature many of the top collegiate indoor track athletes in the region.

The Minutemen and Minutewomen will look to improve upon their performance last year, in which the men’s team finished 10th, and the women earned ninth place.

Key members of each team will look to carry momentum generated from last weekend’s A-10 championship.

Competing against some of the conferences best performers, junior Sean Busch put forth a performance that earned him the UMass Athlete of the Week award.  Not only did Busch place first in the individual pole-vaulting event, but he did so with a mark that was record breaking.  His mark of 15:03:00 was the second highest in school history.

Two other juniors also jumped into the record books last weekend. Teammates Stephanie Aguguo and Ida Okkonen had stand out performances in the triple jump event. The duo had marks of 38.06.75 and 38.06.00 that placed them third and fourth respectively all-time in the UMass triple jump record books.

The Minutemen have a lot of depth this season, and that can be seen in the number of members that they will send to Boston this weekend. The Minutemen will have 21 athletes competing in this weekends meets. Among them is Junior Scott VanderMolen, who earned All-Conference honors in last weekends A-10 Championships for his performance in the 1000 meter run.

Senior Jonathan Pierce will also be looking to perform well in his last NEC. In last years’ race, he recorded his fastest time of the season in the 5000 meter run. This season, he will run alongside three of his teammates in the 500 meter run.

The Minutewomen will have twelve athletes competing in this weekend’s event, including Aguguo and Okkonen. In last year’s race, Holly Heinricher made an impressive run on the track and into the record books.

Then a junior, Heinricher’ blistering mark of 25.25 in the 200 meter was the third fastest ever in UMass indoor history, and was one of the top performances for the Minutewomen. As a senior, she will be competing in the same event this weekend. Senior Lisa Wilson, who has already broken five records in the shot put and weight throw events during her collegiate career, will look to break more this weekend, as she will compete in those two events.

Freshmen Courtney Baldwin and Nalis Mbianda will be competing in their first indoor NEC this weekend. Baldwin will be competing in two long distance events, the long jump and the 1000 meter, while Mbianda will compete in the shot put event.

The meet will kick off for both teams on Friday Feb. 26 at 1:30 p.m., and will continue on Saturday at 10 a.m.

Jeffrey Engmann can be reached at jengmann@student.umass.edu.

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