Becky Stoyle scores gold at New England Championship
One gold medal this season wasn’t enough for Becky Stoyle.
The sophomore triple jumper came away with her second gold medal in as many weeks at the New England Championship in Boston on Saturday, as she once again conquered the triple jump with a leap of 40 feet, 6 inches.
“I was definitely ready to go,” Stoyle said. “I held first the entire meet, so I’m really just happy and relieved.”
UMass assistant coach David Jackson applauded Stoyle for her focus and execution on a day when some factors were fighting against her.
“It was more difficult because she was tired (after competing in the long jump a day earlier), she was really tired,” Jackson said. “It required a lot more energy from her to perform at the high level, so it was definitely more difficult.
“Becky hadn’t jumped at BU all year, so for her, she didn’t necessarily know how to jump at this course. There were a lot of items that played into this learning curve, but she got it.”
The two-time gold medalist’s jump was far and away the best mark of the event as she beat runner up Briana Conyers by nearly a foot. While Stoyle entered the event as a favorite, Jackson never reads into what’s on paper; he wants his star to be humble.
“That doesn’t really mean very much, because anybody can beat anybody. When you get to the meet, paper means nothing,” Jackson said. “If anything, it puts a target on your back, which some people don’t respond well to, and some people do.”
Stoyle clearly is the latter of the two.
“I went in seeded first, so I basically just told myself that’s what I was going to get,” Stoyle said. “I just went in more confident this week, I didn’t really have to worry about the pentathlon, so the triple jump was my main focus.”
If Stoyle’s back-to-back first-place finishes at the indoor Atlantic and New England Championships weren’t impressive enough, she became the first Minutewoman since 2005 to win her event in both meets during the same season.
“I definitely feel successful,” Stoyle said. “It’s an honor to be able to say that’s what I’ve done. I didn’t think it was that difficult to accomplish until I heard the last time it happened was in 2005, so I’m happy about it. It’s a great success.”
While Stoyle’s performance dominated the headlines coming out of championship weekend, senior long jumper Katherine Finnegan also made some noise as she took part in her final indoor New England Championship.
Her long jump distance of 18 feet, 3.75 inches landed her in fifth place.
“There is a sense of consistency that is hard to replicate, and she did it a lot,” Jackson said. “Katherine’s worked very hard the last two years to position herself to be successful in the long jump; not only for herself but for the team. She’s been a good role model for the girls in terms of competition.”
Ashley Palmer, another one of the Minutewomen’s talented sophomore core, also scored in the event, finishing in eighth place with her leap of 17 feet, 9.75 inches.
Jackson is very high on what Palmer brings to the team, and was not shy of giving her praise.
“Ashley is one of the pillars on our track team,” Jackson said. “I will go on record for saying that because she works. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing: sprinting, jumping, or hurdling. She is really willing to do that, and that’s one thing that’s really special and unique about her.”
Rachelle Bourque led the Minutewomen’s throwers squad with an eighth-place finish in the shot put with a throw of 42 feet, 1.25 inches.
Maria Marascia and Katie Powers led the way for the UMass runners, each securing an eighth place finish in the 500 meter dash, and the 1,000 meter run, respectively.
At the end of the day, Jackson was pleased with the team’s overall effort, acknowledging that tired legs were expected to challenge his athletes, who were less than a week removed from the conference championships.
“I think it was tough for them but we had some very good performances, and we had some performances that we would expect after a pretty intense conference meet,” Jackson said. “They performed to the level that we are OK with.”
The Minutewomen will send their ECAC qualifiers back to Boston next weekend for their potential final meet of the season.
Joey Saade can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @Jsaade1225.