In the first two meets of the season, Massachusetts men’s track and field pole vaulters Michael Cyphers and Gregory Copeland matched each other’s marks. But on Friday, Cyphers rose above Copeland’s mark and into the UMass record books.
Cyphers vaulted 15 feet, five inches, good for third in program history, to finish first in the event and lift UMass to a fifth place finish out of 13 teams at the Joe Donahue Indoor Games in Roxbury.
Copeland finished with a vault of 14 feet, 11 inches, just shy of Cyphers to finish second in the event.
UMass coach Ken O’Brien said he is not surprised at how Cyphers, a freshman, has done thus far, based on his performance in high school, and thinks there are good things ahead for both vaulters.
“[Cyphers is] one of the athletes who is really committed to the event,” O’Brien said. “He’s got a championship-type physical ability and a championship mind, so probably both him and Greg will improve as the season goes on.”
O’Brien said that having a second great vaulter on the team helps take the pressure off Copeland, and helps both guys to improve their game.
“I think [Cyphers has] helped Greg a lot physically, I’m sure, just having someone to work out with,” O’Brien said. “But to have Mike having already gone a higher height than Greg has, I think it kind of sets [Greg] at ease a little bit. He doesn’t have the pressure to be the No. 1 man, and he gets the benefit of training with a guy who can push him a lot, and they both push each other.”
Peter Farlow got fourth place in the long jump with a distance of 22 feet, three inches, while Nick Ingham finished in sixth place in the high jump with a height of six feet, four inches.
Ingham also scored in the 4×400-meter relay event, teaming up with Michael Giardina, Youssef Elkorchi and Jared Reddy to finish seventh with a combined time of three minutes, 31.49 seconds.
Two other relay squads scored for UMass. Patrick Farnham, Quinn Ryder, Nick Otis and Paul Grafov finished first in the 4×400-meter relay event with a time of 3:23.73, good enough to qualify for the New England Championship. The squad of Curtis Owen, Zack Grube, Thomas Mullen and Stephen Ness finished in sixth place with a time of 3:31.30.
Ryder and Farnham both scored in the 60-meter dash; Ryder with a third place finish in 7.07 seconds, and Farnham in fifth place with a time of 7.09 seconds that qualified him for the NEC.
Grafov scored in the 400-meter dash, finishing eighth with a time of 51.46 seconds, trailing teammate Zachary Hildenbrandt, who finished sixth at 51.35 seconds. Otis finished seventh in the 800-meter run with a time of 1:57.08.
Mullen finished second in the 1,000-meter run and qualified for the NEC with a time of 2:29.27. Antony Taylor also qualified for the NEC, finishing second in the mile run with a personal-best time of 4:15.58.
Benjamin Groleau finished the mile run behind Taylor at 4:20.93, good for seventh place. Stephen Bigelow rounded out the scoring for the Minutemen, finishing fourth in the 60-meter hurdles at 8.32 seconds.
O’Brien said the team, thus far, has been getting back into shape after the long winter break, but feels the athletes should soon start to show their true colors.
“I think it usually takes about three weeks of competition before you’re starting to be able to actually accomplish performances that you’re capable of,” he said. “So, I think we’re in the very early stages, and these next couple weeks, I think we’ll elevate ourselves, and in the last three weeks of the season, hopefully we’ll be able to put the finishing touches on the year and climb our way as high up to the top as possible.”
The team returns to action on Feb. 1 for the two-day Giegengack Invitational in New Haven, Conn. The first day of the meet is set to start at 6 p.m.
Jesse Mayfield-Sheehan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @JGMS88.