Busch, Cotto, Perno shine for track and field

By Scott Cournoyer

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Courtesy of UMass Athletics

Courtesy of UMass Athletics

With the commencement of the outdoor season just a few weeks away, the Massachusetts men’s and women’s track and field squads continued their winter campaigns over the weekend in Boston at the IC4A and Eastern College Athletic Conference Championships, respectively.

After an impressive showing by UMass representatives at the New England Championships the weekend of Feb. 25-26, subsequent qualifiers for IC4A’s didn’t disappoint on day one.
The star that shined the brightest was a likely suspect in senior pole-vaulter Sean Busch, who took home this year’s Atlantic 10 Conference’s Student-Athlete of the Year award on March 4.

Busch propelled to new heights, both for himself and for the UMass records books Saturday. The Stow, Mass. native cleared a height of 16-0.75, ranking tops in the program’s history. The height clearance was good for sixth place in the event overall.
Junior Zachary Koncki was also impressive for UMass on day one, competing in the long jump. Koncki, who has won both New England and A-10 titles this winter, jumped a distance of 21-8.25, good for 22nd place.

Senior Daniel Barry continued his campaign with positive results in the mile run. The six-foot-four, Sheffield, Mass product placed 11th in the event with a mark of 4:08.82. The time tied him for fourth-best in school history.

Other Minutemen who competed in day one’s preliminaries were Paul Grafov and Joe Doyle, who teamed up with Barry and Scott VanderMolen in the 4×800 meter relay.

Grafov, although he did not qualify for day two, did post impressive results in the relay, as well as the 500 meter dash. In his first IC4A event in his career, he posted a time of 1:04.86 in the 500 meter, finishing in 22nd place.

Doyle, who competed in the 800 meter dash, finished 23rd with a time of 1:52.66. He also tied for the fifth-best time in the event in the program’s history on day one.

On day two, the Minutemen saw only one athlete compete for UMass, as Tyler Cotto continued his historic senior campaign with and impressive show. The Holliston, Mass. native competed in the 60 meter hurdles, posting a time of 7.99, good for a third-place finish.

The men completed the weekend with 8.50 points, tying Lehigh for 31st place. The outdoor season will begin on April 1, pending any NCAA Regional qualifiers.

Minutewomen compete at ECAC’s

Day one saw notable performances from a collection of Minutewomen athletes as well, the most impressive coming from Gina Perno. Perno took first place in the preliminaries in the 1000 meter dash on Saturday, finishing with a time of 2:54.12.

The results in the 500 meter dash proved to be the best collective effort that UMass put up during day one’s events. Deanna Julian (1:16.10), Sarah Bittermann (1:16.19), and Michelle Jenssen (1:16.34) finished third, fourth and fifth place in the event, respectively.
Day two concluded the indoor season for the program, as the team failed to earn any points.

Perno, after qualifying in preliminaries in the 1000 meter dash, took third place in the event with a time of 2:52.18. Perno’s time was her second-best performance of the season in the event.

In the triple jump, senior Stephanie Aguguo took seventh place, posting a mark of 39-10.50. Like Perno, Aguguo’s mark was her second best of the season, just 4.75 inches short of her season’s best.

With indoor season officially wrapped up, the Minutewomen will look ahead to their outdoor season, starting April 1 at the Sam Howell Invitational.

Scott Cournoyer can be reached at [email protected]