UMass track and field has big weekend at Harvard Invitational

By Arthur Hayden

Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian
Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

Both the Massachusetts men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams competed in the unscored Harvard Invitational in Cambridge on Saturday and came away with impressive results.

The Minutemen had arguably their best meet of the season so far, finishing with four first-place finishes against a handful of highly competitive Northeast schools including Boston College, Northeastern, Holy Cross, Quinnipiac and the host school Harvard, whose indoor team is ranked 25th in the nation.

Sophomore Michael McNaughton led the Minutemen with a victory in the 800-meter dash (one minute, 55.55 seconds), an event in which the UMass men had four top-eight finishers. Stephen Ness, a junior, was close behind in third (one minute, 56.97 seconds).

UMass coach Ken O’Brien orchestrated another great performance from the top 4×440 yard relay team, finishing in three minutes, 26.59 seconds, the best time at the meet.

The other two first place finishes came from senior Antony Taylor and explosive freshman Lamont Gooden. Taylor finished at the head of the pack of the 3000-meter run (eight minutes, 22.45 seconds) while Gooden took first place in the long jump (22 feet, seven inches), leaping almost a full foot further than any other competitor in the field. O’Brien referred to Gooden as “the best surprise so far” this season.

“He gives us a lot of promise for scoring potential in (the long jump and triple jump) as the year goes on,” O’Brien said of Gooden.

O’Brien also pointed to the early heptathlon success of sophomore Nick Ingham, who broke the team’s heptathlon record in his first meet of the season, and freshman standout Adam Bonifilio as a reason for the aggressive mentality that the Minutemen have shown so far this season.

“When the two young guys get off to a good start…I think it breeds confidence,” O’Brien said. “I think it’s been a partial reason why (the team) has been so successful.”

Minutewomen jump to success

Rebecca Stoyle and the Minutewomen continued to churn out top performances on Saturday, further preparing themselves for the Atlantic 10 Championships that take place in less than three weeks.

Stoyle and fellow junior Courtney Kromko established themselves as a powerful one-two punch this season for UMass, and Saturday’s meet in Cambridge was their latest conquest.

With a jump that puts her at No. 23 in the country in the event, Stoyle broke her own program record as the Minutewomen dominated the triple jump, taking the top four spots in the meet.

Stoyle’s jump of 41 feet, 4.5 inches was followed by a personal record from Kromko as well (38 feet, 7.75 inches). Lauren Avery and Ashley Palmer finished third and fourth in the event, respectively.

Stoyle and Kromko took the same top-two spots in the long jump with almost identical jumps. Stoyle’s (18 feet, 3.25 inches) was just a quarter of an inch further than Kromko’s. Stoyle wrapped up another exemplary meet with a second-place finish in the 300-meter dash (40.52 seconds), followed by Palmer, who finished in fourth (42.38 seconds).

Distance specialist Rachel Hilliard had a strong meet as well. The junior was the only female competitor to run a sub-five minute mile at the meet, taking first place in four minutes, 59.23 seconds. Showing tremendous endurance, she came back to find the podium again in the 3000-meter run, finishing third with a time of nine minutes, 54.02 seconds.

Both UMass teams have just one more meet before the A-10 Championships, which start Feb. 22nd in Kingston, R.I.

The Minutewomen will travel into Boston for the Hemery Valentine Invite next Friday, a day before the Minutemen head back to New Haven, Conn., where they started the season, for the Giegengack Invitational.

Arthur Hayden can be reached at [email protected]