UMass women place fourth at Atlantic 10s, men finish in the middle of the pack

By Nick Souza

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(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts women’s and men’s track and field teams competed in the Atlantic 10 Championships over the weekend, placing fourth and sixth respectively.

Overall, Virginia Commonwealth University won the women’s title while Rhode Island took home the men’s crown for the second straight year. VCU won by a 20-point margin, finishing with 125 total points while URI fended off George
Mason, 203-199.

The Minutewomen finished with 85 points in the field of 13 teams. They entered with a roster already hampered by injury and figured to struggle against the conference’s upper echelon of talent. Yet after the first day, UMass was in first place.

“When the athletes perform well early on, it builds excitement for the rest of the meet and the team can feed off that energy,” Minutewomen coach Julie LaFreniere said.

Multiple individual performers fed off that energy for UMass.

Heather MacLean won the 800 meter dash with a time of two minutes, 14.39 seconds, edging Fordham’s Titi Fagade by less than a second. In the 1-mile run, Rachel Hilliard earned a bronze medal with a time of 5:00:27.

In the field events, Courtney Kromko earned Most Outstanding Field Performer for the Minutewomen, finishing in first place in the long jump and second place in the triple jump. UMass’ Margaret Riseborough also finished in third place in the shot put, setting a new personal record with a 43-foot, 3.75-inch throw.

After the successful showing in the tournament, Minutewomen field events coach David Jackson commended his athletes’ individual performances.

“We expect our athletes to work like superstars,” he said. “And we expect them to put their best effort forward in meets like this and that’s all we can ask for.”

UMass returns to action next weekend in the New England Championships, a two-day event held in Boston.

Minutemen finish sixth

UMass’ men’s team finished with 36 total points, placing it sixth out of nine teams in the tournament.

Much like the women, the Minutemen didn’t have the top-tier overall talent of other schools but received strong individual performances in several events, most notably the heptathlon.

Three different UMass members finished in the top eight, led by Adam Bonfilio, who finished fourth overall with 4,644 points. Nick Ingham finished fifth (4,603 points) and Greg Copeland finished seventh (4,471) for the Minutemen.

According to UMass coach Ken O’Brien, his team entered the weekend knowing it would need to be at its best.

“As the meets this time of year become much larger and much deeper in talent, the margin of error becomes very small,” O’Brien said. “That’s why we hope the athletes competing in their events have it down perfectly by this time of year.”

Senior runner Ben Groleau placed fifth in the 1-mile run, narrowly edging his sixth-place competitor, URI’s James Bloom, with a time of 4:17:04.

The Minutemen will also compete in the New England Championships next weekend in Boston.

Nick Souza can be reached at [email protected]