The quick turn-around from last weekend’s meet is an unusual one for UMass, which typically has about a week in between events, which will test the mental and physical toughness of its athletes. UMass women’s coach Julie LaFreniere said that she was pleased with the performance of her team members in the UMass Nine-Way meet, but that they are not used to outdoor conditions and need to tune-up.
“The kids are not fresh,” said LaFreniere. “We are pushing through all these meets, and there are places where we need to be tougher mentally and physically. We’re going to keep working hard through April and ease up a bit when we get ready for [the Atlantic 10 championship].”
The meet at HC gives UMass a chance to get used to outdoor competition one more time before heading into a bigger event on Friday in New Jersey, the Larry Ellis Invitational. Both teams will look to continue the momentum of their top finishes and qualify more members for the New England and A-10 championships.
“We have Princeton next weekend, and that’s a top end meet,” LaFreniere said. “We want to be ready for that, and in order to do that, we have to sharpen up.”
The Minutewomen certainly looked sharp this past weekend, combining to take first place in their home opener, the UMass Nine-Way meet.
Senior Lisa Wilson paced the Minutewomen, as she broke her own school record from 2009 in the shot-put, and taking first place in the hammer throw, as well as second place in the discus. Fellow upperclassman Stephanie Aguguo also recorded a first-place finish, winning the triple jump and qualifying for NECs in the process.
Like the Minutewomen, the men’s team recorded a satisfying finish in the meet, taking second place overall.
The Minutemen turned in a strong performance in several events, but none were as impressive as the 10,000-meter distance run. UMass recorded a one-two-three finish in the event, with each runner finishing within a minute of each other. The winner, Jonathan Pierce, was named Co-Atlantic 10 Performer of the Week for his performance, sharing the award with Darius Law of Charlotte.
Pierce won the 10,000-meter run when he crossed the finish line in 30 minutes, 43 seconds. His time was good enough to qualify him for both the NECs, as well as the IC4A Championships later in the season. This award is the second of the year for Pierce, who won Performer of the Week honors back in October during the cross country season.
Other top performers for the Minutemen included pole vaulter Sean Busch, who placed second in his signature event, as well as Sonny Gamble, who also took second in the steeple chase event.
Brian Miller and Zachary Koncki capped off the meet for UMass by winning the high jump and long jump events, respectively. Miller reached a height of 6-07.00 meters, and barely missed the school’s top-five record. Knocki leaped a distance of 22 feet, 11 inches, as he beat out the competition.
The Minutemen, like their female counterparts, are getting used to outdoor weather and conditions each week, and the men have shown steady improvement all season long. They look to contend this week before moving on to the A-10 championship in just two weeks.
Michael Wood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.