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Men’s and women’s track and field squads with strong individual showings

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

Freshman Benjamin Groleau had already been putting in quality performances for the Massachusetts men’s track and field team.
But at the Giegengack Invitational on Saturday, Groleau passed everybody to take first place in the mile run and qualify for the New England Championship.

Groleau finished the event with a time of four minutes, 11.02 seconds during the non-team-scoring meet. Junior Antony Taylor came in behind Groleau, crossing the line at 4:14.30 to earn fifth place in the event.

Another strong finish in the distance events came from Michael McNaughton, as the freshman earned eighth place in the 1,000-meter run, coming in at 2:35.55.

Junior Quinn Ryder, sophomore Patrick Farnham and junior Stephen Bigelow finished strong again in the short distance events. Ryder finished in the top five in the 60-meter dash for the fourth straight time this season, finishing in second place with a time of 7.07 seconds. Farnham was right behind Ryder once again, earning his second straight top five finish in the event with a fourth place finish at 7.13 seconds. Bigelow finished the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.36 seconds, good for a second place finish and his third straight top five finish of the season.

Ryder and Farnham also teamed up with junior Zachary Hildenbrandt and senior Paul Grafov for the 4×400-meter relay, as the quad combined for a time of 3:22.02 to finish in fifth place.

Freshman Michael Cyphers and sophomore Gregory Copeland continued to thrive in the pole vault. The two matched each other’s mark for the third time this season, both vaulting 14 feet, 9 inches and finishing with a tie for second place.

The Minutemen will return to action this Saturday to compete in the Valentine Invitational at Boston University. The meet is set to start at 9 a.m.

Stoyle shatters triple jump record

Another meet in the books, and yet another top performance by the UMass women’s track and field squad.

Sophomore Becky Stoyle’s record-shattering effort in the triple jump highlighted the Minutewomen’s second overall finish at the URI Coaches Invite in Kingston, R.I., on Saturday in a non-team-scoring event.

Stoyle’s leap of 40 feet, 7.75 inches broke the program’s all-time indoor triple jump record set by Janey Meeks back in 1995. The sophomore’s jump was also the greatest distance by any athlete in the Atlantic 10 this season by 7.75 inches, and was just 1.25 inches shy of the A-10 Championships all-time record.

Senior Katherine Finnegan was one of two other Minutewomen who came out on top in their respective events, placing first in the long jump with a distance of 18 feet, 7 inches, finishing just a quarter inch shy of the program’s fifth best mark. Ashley Palmer finished third in the event with a mark of 17 feet, 8.25 inches.

UMass continued to show its great depth and versatility, having at least two or more athletes place in the top eight in four of the events, including the shot put, pole vault, 500-meter relay and the 3,000-meter run. Junior Sarah Bittermann finished with first place honors in the 500-meter run, earning herself a spot in the New England Championships with a time of 1:17.67. Seniors Maria Marascia and Michelle Jenssen also had strong performances, finishing in third and fourth place, respectively.

The shot put was arguably the strongest event for UMass, as four Minutewomen placed in the top eight. Senior thrower Nalis Mbianda led the group with a third place finish for her distance of 42 feet, 3.5 inches, while fellow senior Rachelle Bourque’s throw of 41 feet, 11.5 inches was good enough for a close fifth place showing. Following Bourque was senior Kaylee DeVincent and freshman Kelsey Crawford in sixth and seventh place, respectively.

Freshman Sarah Bierly and sophomore Rachel Busch put up solid performances in the pole vault. Bierly’s leap of 10 feet, 8 inches landed her in fourth place, while Busch’s mark of 10 feet, 2 inches gave her the fifth spot.

The Minutewomen placed two runners in the top five finishes of the 3,000-meter run. Freshman Molly McMahon crossed the finish line with a time of 10:39.29, giving her third place honors, while sophomore Alexandra Purdue-Smithe ran for fifth place with her time of 10:46.60.

The Minutewomen close out their regular season on Friday with a trip to Boston University to take part in the Valentine Invitational.

Jesse Mayfield-Sheehan can be reached at and followed on Twitter @JGMS88. Joey Saade can be reached at and followed on Twitter @MDC_Saade.


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