Freshman Nick Ingham never did hurdles, pole vault, long jump or shot put until he came to college. But those were just four of the seven events he had to do in the heptathlon event at the Indoor Track A-10 Championship this weekend.
Ingham finished third in the heptathlon, set personal-best marks in every event except the hurdles and high jump, qualified for the New England Championships with a total score of 4,666 points and helped the Massachusetts men’s track and field team to a seventh place finish at the two-day event in Kingston, R.I.
“I can’t even put it into words,” Ingham said of his performance over the weekend. “I knew coming into it that I had just a little bit more to give in just about every event.”
Ingham said he did not expect to do so well in his first year, and gives a lot of credit for his success to Jumps and Multi-Events Coach David Jackson.
“Coach Jackson never gave up on me and pushed me every day and really took me to where I am today,” Ingham said, “and I can’t thank him enough.”
Coach Ken O’Brien said Ingham and Jackson are a perfect combination to get the best out of the rookie.
“Coach Jackson, who (Ingham) works with upon his arrival at UMass, is a perfect compliment to what (Ingham’s) athletic ability is and what he is as a person,” O’Brien said. “Coach Jackson’s philosophy of coaching and his knowledge in all those different areas, they feed right into Nick’s ability and desire to heat it all up and put it into motion as fast as he can.”
Continuing their success in the pole vault were Michael Cyphers and Gregory Copeland, who finished the event in fourth and seventh place, respectively, with heights of 15 feet, 3 inches, and 14 feet, 8 inches. However, Cyphers still has yet to beat his top high school mark of 15 feet, 6 inches, and plans on going even higher in future events.
“I’ll definitely be expecting a big jump next weekend at the New England Championships, and I think outdoors is going to be a big season to watch for me, personally,” Cyphers said.
Also scoring in the field was Andrew Grube, who jumped a distance of 6 feet, 4.25 inches in the long jump to finish in eighth place. Grube also teamed up with Paul Grafov, Patrick Farnham and Quinn Ryder in the 4×400 meter relay and combined for a time of 3:26.2, good for sixth place.
Another scoring relay squad for UMass was the distance medley quad of Grafov, Benjamin Groleau, Thomas Mullen and Antony Taylor, which finished in fourth place with a time of 10:09.31. Taylor also scored in the 3,000-meter run, finishing seventh with a time of 8:32.67.
Ryder and Stephen Bigelow rounded out the scoring in the short-distance events. Ryder ran the 60-meter dash in 7.13 seconds to come in eighth place, and Bigelow finished the 60-meter hurdles in 8.26 seconds, good for a fifth place finish.
O’Brien said he was a little disappointed in the team’s overall finish and thought they were just a couple of slightly better performances away from finishing higher.
“I was hoping we could be somewhere higher than that position and I thought maybe we had a pretty good shot for seventh (place),” O’Brien said. “Overall, I’m really not satisfied with that level of meet finish in a conference championship like that.”
The Minutemen next compete in the New England Championships on Friday. The team will be sending eight individuals and three relay squads to the event. The two-day event will start at 10 a.m. at Boston University.
Jesse Mayfield-Sheehan can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @JGMS88.