UMass men’s and women’s track and field teams see mixed results in Joe Donahue Indoor Games

By Nick Souza

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The Massachusetts men’s track and field team finished sixth out of eight teams Friday in the Joe Donahue Indoor Games.

Held in Roxbury, UMass competed against regional opponents in the meet, including Northeastern, Brown, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, who rounded out the top five ahead of the Minutemen’s 54 total points.

Despite UMass’ subpar team performance, coach Ken O’Brien said the final result was not the most important takeaway from this weekend’s meet. O’Brien said he is focused more on the Minutemen’s long-term goals for this season.

Reaching peak performances at the end of the season is the main objective, according to O’Brien, who emphasized UMass’ impressive individual showings in Roxbury.

Top performers on Friday included junior middle distance runner Ben Groleau and senior Greg Copeland. Groleau finished with a third-place time of 2:35.06 in the 1,000-meter race while Copeland contributed a 14-foot, 3.1-inch jump in the pole vault to earn a silver medal.

Alex Finestone, who posted the 11th best time in the Atlantic 10 conference for the 500-meter dash with a time of 1:07.14, also contributed to the success. The sophomore finished sixth out of 20 runners in the event.

The Minutemen fared particularly well in the relay events. UMass’ 4×800-meter relay team – composed of Finestone, Adam Selsman, Stephen Ness and Michael McNaughton – finished in second place (8:04.37) while the Minutemen’s 4×400-meter relay team of Deion Arneaud, Adam Bonfilio, Zachary Blum and Zack Grube finished with a time of 3:32.24. The latter time earned a fifth-place finish and the sixth-best time in the Atlantic 10 this season.

O’Brien said he hopes these encouraging performances suggest that the team will be in position to perform well when it counts the most at the end of the season.

“I expect the best possible performances from the athletes for a meet at this point in the season,” O’Brien said. “Track is a unique sport in that the performances at the beginning of the season are not as critical as the performances at the end of the season.”

UMass will look to convert its individual performances into team success on Saturday in the Terrier Invitational held in Boston.

Minutewomen take fourth place

While the Minutemen finished in the bottom half of their competition Friday, the UMass women’s track and field team finished fourth out of nine teams with the help of top performers Rachel Hilliard, Heather MacLean and Courtney Kromko.

Hilliard ran the 3,000-meter run (9:40.12) for a second-place finish and the 22nd best performance in the nation this season. The senior’s performance marked the second-fastest time in program history and qualified her for the New England Championships in May. Hilliard also managed to win the gold medal in the one-mile run with a time of (4:58.99), giving her another regional-qualifying time.

MacLean produced the 16th best time in the country with a 2:10.80 in the 800-meter run, earning her first place. Kromko earned gold with a long jump of 18 feet, 2.50 inches. Her mark also qualifies her for New England Championships at the end of the season.

Other standouts and qualifiers included freshman Colleen Sands, who qualified for regionals in the 3,000-meter race (10:24.13) with an eighth-place finish.

UMass looks to keep building toward its goal at a championship in its upcoming meet Friday in Boston at the Terrier Invitational.

Nicholas Souza can be reached at [email protected]