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Track athletes excel at Giegengack Invitational

Despite the chilling weather and record snowfalls this winter throughout the Northeast, the Massachusetts men’s and women’s track and field squads were red-hot this weekend, as they competed against some of the best schools in the area at the Giegengack Invitational, hosted by Yale.

“Overall, I was very pleased with the way our team performed,” UMass coach Ken O’Brien said. “We had some more guys qualify for [New England] and [IC4A] events and that’s important when thinking about going even further.”

The two-day event on Friday and Saturday proved to be successful for both UMass teams, as many have already secured a spot in both the New England Championships later this month and IC4A Regionals in early March. 

Despite most events not coming until Saturday, Day One proved to be successful for the Minutemen and women that did perform.  

Senior Kevin Spieler placed fifth in the weight throw, with a distance of 54-1.25. The Attleboro, Mass. native was coming off the Reebok Indoor Games the weekend before, where he placed third and set a personal-best with 54-2.75.

The duo of Zachary Koncki and Daniel Wu placed third and fourth, respectively, in the long jump, posting marks of 22-4.50 and 22-3.50. 

With only six performances on the first day for the Minutewomen, some the representatives had impressive performances that set the stage for Day Two. Sophomore Rebecca Banker stood out, posting a high jump of 5-05.00, good enough to win the event and also rank fourth highest all-time in school history.

In the 5,000 meter event, junior Karen Roa joined Banker in the UMass record books. Roa ran a time of 17:30.77, placing third and posting the fifth-best time in school history for the event. Redshirt junior Colleen Wetherbee placed fifth in the same event with a time of 18:09.80. Both Roa and Wetherbee will represent UMass at the New England and ECAC Championships, as both performed well enough to qualify.   

Saturday’s performances built upon the already successful first day, as individuals qualified for future competitions. Others, who already qualified based on previous performances this season, continued their strong seasons. 

Senior Sean Busch led the way for UMass, competing in the pole vault. Busch tied the indoor school record in the event, posting a height of 15 feet, 9 inches, which he already was tied for with former UMass star, Ken Schneider (2003). The Stow, Mass. native’s performance Saturday earned him a trip to the IC4A Championships.

“Sean did a great job on building upon what he’s done so far this season,” O’Brien said. “[He has] already qualified for New England’s and IC4A, I look for him to work out kinks next week, like footing on the mat and other things along those lines.”

Already qualified to compete in the New England and IC4A Championships coming up, senior Tyler Cotto posted a time of 8.12 in the 60 meter hurdles, placing first in the event.

“[Tyler] is an extreme competitor, who, like Sean, we’ve relied on to perform every week and he delivers,” O’Brien said.

The 500-meter sophomore tandem of Paul Grafov and Joe Doyle placed ninth and 10th, respectively, with times of 1:05.17 and 1:05.27. Doyle’s time qualified him for the New England Championships in the event.

Four Minutewomen qualified for future competition with impressive performances on Saturday. Junior Chrissy Silvar successfully posted a height of 11-03.75 in the pole vault, placing second in the event and qualifying her for the NEC in the event. Silvar’s mark was good enough for a new season high.

Other UMass women that qualified for the NEC were Elizabeth Fisk (mile, 5:05.93), Meghan Leahy (400 meters, 59.44), and Michelle Jenssen (500 meter, 1:18.05.) Senior Stephanie Aguguo won the triple jump over the weekend, posting a mark of 38-06.25.

Both squads will be back in action next weekend, competing at the Valentine Invitational in Boston. The event will prepare both squads before they head to North Kingston, R.I. to compete in the Atlantic 10 championships the weekend of Feb. 18.

Scott Cournoyer can be reached at scournoy@student.umass.edu.

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