Turf Team mows competition at nationals

By Collegian News Staff

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The University of Massachusetts has one green program which is cutting its way to the top of its field. The UMass Turf Team, composed of students training to work in landscape management, recently placed third in the nation at the National Collegiate Turf Bowl, held in Orlando in February.

The third-place team was composed of three Bay State residents, Eric Cronin of Peabody, Robert Fitzgerald of North Andover and Michael McCormick of Sudbury, and one Vermonter, Royal Healy of Marshfield, Vt., according to a Friday release from the Office of News and Media Relations.

The turf squad earned their top-three finish by acing a three-hour exam probing their expertise in turf grass science and stewardship, “including  growth and development, physiology, soils and fertility, pest management, the environmental, calculations, and business and personnel management,” according to the release.

The team finished second in last year’s competition, and other campus teams also placed at 22 and 25, respectively. The team is led by plant physiologist Michelle DaCosta in the department of plant, soil and insect sciences and receives guidance from various science faculty members.

The squad was able to make its way to Central Florida this year through the hard work of the UMass Turf Club, which performed landscaping services for residents across the Pioneer Valley throughout the year and ultimately raised some $7,000 to help cover the cost of the trip, according to the release.

The two other placing teams included several other Commonwealth residents, including Ryan McGillivray of North Andover, Peter White of Worcester, Edward Coffin, Jr., of Nantucket, William Crosby of Boxborough and Scott St. Pierre of West Yarmouth. The lone out-of-state resident on the other two teams, Alden Maddocks, was also a Vermonter, residing in Manchester, according to the release.

All of the students on the Turf Team are in the sustainable turf management program in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture.

The Turf Bowl is sponsored by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) in conjunction with lawnmower manufacturer John Deere. This year, Iowa State University took top honors, followed by Purdue University in Indiana and then UMass. Last year the only school to top the University was also Iowa State, as Purdue placed third in 2010. The bowl is held during the GCSAA’s annual convention.

-Collegian News Staff