Track teams set for weekend meets

By Jeffrey Okerman

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

On Friday night, the Reggie Lewis Track in Roxbury, Mass. will host the Massachusetts track and field teams, though each squad will compete in a different meet.

The Minutemen will participate in the Reebok Indoor Games, while the women’s team will compete in the Joe Donahue Indoor Games this Friday, Jan. 27.

With the third meet on the team’s schedule on the horizon, men’s coach Ken O’Brien used the previous two meets as a guideline for how his team is shaping up, and what he can expect going forward.

“Not everybody lives near a track, so it was kind of a gap in the training schedule,” said O’Brien. “[However] at the Sorlein Invitational I thought we did well, and exceeded my expectations as a general impression of what might happen [down the road].”

“Then we went to Albany,” O’Brien said. “We placed 14th out of 25 scoring schools, while there were probably 50 schools altogether. So I thought that was a pretty good showing.”

As an attempt to build experience in his runners, O’Brien also placed several runners in different races than they would normally expect to compete in. Now, after seeing the success that each individual could have, he expects to see every runner improve and build upon what they have learned about themselves as athletes thus far in the season.

“[The last meet] was kind of more like a sophisticated scrimmage than a real meet,” said O’Brien. “Now, back to school for week, and this is the third meet, but the first meet where kids should start to show some ‘athletic improvement’, [and also see] some measurable performances that could reflect some improvements.”

O’Brien also had praise to hand out for seniors Zachary Koncki and Patrick McAllister. Koncki heads into this meet four inches short of the school record in the long jump, according to UMass Athletics. Meanwhile, McAllister continues his recovery from Lyme disease, which cut his cross country season short.

“[Koncki] is a multi-talented athlete,” said O’Brien. “He’s a significant factor in any of the events he is competing in. It’s a coach’s dream of having versatility and excellence at the same time. [McAllister] also had a good return in the 5000-meter [race]. His best [mark] is 14:43, and 15:04 isn’t far off from that.”

The Minutewomen, on the other hand, will be taking part in a different version of the same meet. The Joe Donahue Indoor Games will be their third meet as well.

With a smaller sample size to compete against at both the GoRhody, and Sorlein invites, this will be the  team’s first foray into major competition against teams from all over New England. Rival schools such as Connecticut and New Hampshire will also be in attendance, and the squad feels like the meet will be a good chance to test its mettle in the northeast.

UMass will continue to rely on its impressive form in the field events as the season plays out. Four of the six field events were won by Minutewomen at the GoRhody invite, and in the high jump their best finisher came in second place..

The Minutewomen will also look for strong distance performances from athletes like Deanna Julian, who is currently seeded fourth in the 1000-meter race. Katie Powers, and Caroline Conena are also seeded 11th, and 12th in that race, respectively.

Karen Roa will also look to assert the strength of the Minutewomen in the distance events, holding the top seed in the 3000-meter race. She did not participate in the GoRhody invite.

However, the squad is set to face tough competition in the sprint events, holding no single digit seeds in any race fewer than 800-meters.

Jeffery Okerman can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MDC_Okerman.