Teams capture first and second in UMass Nine-Way Meet

By Michael Wood

In the second meet of the outdoor season, the Massachusetts track and field teams were impressive on their home turf.

The UMass Nine-Way meet, featuring 10 teams on the men’s side and nine on the women’s side, was anticipated to be a competitive event and it did not disappoint.

 The Minutemen qualified two members for the Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America championship and seven more athletes for the New England Championship in two weeks en route to an impressive second-place finish.

The day started off quickly for the Minutemen, who saw Jonathon Pierce, Nicolai Naranjo and Jason Ayr finish one-two-three in the longest event of the day, the 10,000-meter run. Pierce notched the first-place finish with Naranjo close behind in second and Ayr crossed the finish line less than a minute later.

UMass notched several other first-place finishes, including Brian Miller in the high jump and Zachary Koncki in the long jump. Miller jumped to a height of 6-07.00 meters and missed the school’s top-five historical mark by a mere one inch. Regardless, it was good enough to qualify him for the NECs. Koncki also took first place, leaping a distance of 22 feet, 11 inches.

Sonny Gamble, who competed in the steeple chase event, placed second with his time of 9:34.06 minutes. The steeple chase is typically an event exclusive to the outdoor season. With his second place time, Gamble qualified for the NECs in two weeks. Junior indoor Atlantic 10 champion Sean Busch also came in second place in the pole vault, reaching a height of 14 feet, 9 inches.

As the Minutemen qualified seven athletes for the NECs in their second-place finish, the Minutewomen recorded four top five all-time records and won the UMass Nine-Way meet.

As she has all year long, senior thrower Lisa Wilson got UMass off to a great start. She set a new school record in the shot put, breaking her own record from 2009 with a distance of 45 feet, 10 inches. She also placed first in the hammer throw, where she recorded a distance of 166 feet, two inches, as well as second in the discus throw. She has now qualified for the Eastern College Athletic Conference championship in the shot put and the discus.

A-10 champion Stephanie Aguguo qualified for NECs in the triple jump, reaching a distance of 38-01.25 meters and taking first place. Also winning their events was 800-meter specialist Gina Perno crossing the finish line in 2:16.61 minutes  and star sophomore Karen Roa, winning with 17:55.60 minutes. The freshman crop of athletes has not disappointed for the Minutewomen yet this year, and that trend seems to be continuing into the outdoor season. Nalis Mbianda was right behind Wilson in the shot put, setting her own record of 42 feet, 11 inches and taking second place.

In the javelin throw, Rachelle Bourque set the second-highest mark in UMass history, reaching a distance of 137 feet, two inches and came in first place. Stefanie Danehy followed her by setting her own school record and taking third place in the event.

Both teams face a quick turn-around this week as they head to Holy Cross in Worcester for a meet tomorrow.

Michael Wood can be reached at [email protected]