UMass track and field teams finish regular season with mixed results at Coaches Invitational

By Nick Souza

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(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

In the final invitational before the Atlantic 10 championships, the Massachusetts men’s track and field team finished eighth while the Minutewomen took fourth in Kingston, Rhode Island.

In a competitive field including New Hampshire, Brown and Rhode Island, the UMass women finished in the top half of nine teams with 80 points. Taking place at the Mackal Field House, the same location as the A-10 championships, Minutewomen coach Julie LaFreniere said Saturday’s meet served as proper preparation for the postseason.

“Being there will be good for our athletes and especially our jumpers, to get acclimated,” LaFreniere said.

UMass saw particular success in Saturday’s field events, including Rebecca Stoyle and Courtney Kromko, who took first and third in the triple jump. Stoyle finished with a 38-foot, 11-inch jump while Kromko recorded a 37-foot, 5-inch jump.

Stoyle and Kromko carried their momentum into the long jump, finishing fourth and fifth, while Ashley Palmer took gold in the event.

Rounding out the field events, Margaret Riseborough finished third in shot put with a 43-foot throw and Rachel Busch finished third in the pole vault.

The Minutewomen also saw positive performances on the track from Rachel Hilliard and Heather MacLean.

Hilliard finished seventh in the 1-mile run with a time of five minutes, nine seconds in the mile, while MacLean edged out Providence runner Caitlin Abelseth by less than a second to clinch second place in the 500-meter dash with a New England championship qualifying time of 1:16.19.

Minutemen struggle Saturday

The UMass men’s team failed to find similar success as the Minutewomen, finishing eighth out of nine teams Saturday.

Despite the finish, standouts included Ben Groleau, Nicholas Gemino and Greg Copeland.

Groleau finished the 1-mile run in fifth place with a time of 4:18.64, eighth best in the A-10. Seniors Gemino and Copeland tied for sixth in the pole vault.

In addition, Adam Bonfolio qualified for the IC4A championships with a seventh place finish in the 60-meter hurdles.

Overcoming injuries

Both the UMass men’s and women’s teams have suffered their fair share of injuries this season. In particular, the Minutewomen’s season has been a frustrating one due to health concerns and lack of access to proper training facilities.

The teams have faced extreme weather conditions and copious amounts of snow this winter, making training outdoors nearly impossible.

“We have to go to Smith College at least once a week to train and I’m grateful to have it, but I often have to be conservative with the workouts we do there because of the flat and concrete surface,” LaFreniere said. “And we can’t train outside because of how harsh the weather has been.”

The men’s team echoed a similar issue with its athletes.

“We noticed an alarming amount of illnesses and wear and tear injuries this season and it is a little more than what we would like to have at this point in the season,” Minutemen coach Ken O’Brien said.

“This has led to both teams lacking the top three type finishers they typically would like to have.”

The goal for both teams Saturday was to stay healthy and prepare for their next steps in the postseason. The A-10 championships begin Feb. 21 in Kingston, Rhode Island.

Nicholas Souza can be reached at [email protected]