UMass track and field finish indoor seasons in ECACs, IC4As

By Nick Souza

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The Massachusetts men’s and women’s track and field teams finished their indoor seasons this past weekend in Boston finishing 39th and 44th in their respective fields.

Monmouth University’s men’s team won the IC4As and Connecticut’s women’s team placed first in the ECACs in UMass’ final meets until April’s outdoor season begins.

The Minutewomen continued to see an unfortunate trend of having many of their best point scorers sidelined due to injury or illness. In the ECACs, Becky Stoyle, Courtney Kromko and Heather MacLean were all unavailable.

Stoyle, a senior, was a dominant force in field events this season, but was hindered by a hamstring injury. Meanwhile, Kromko suffered a foot injury and MacLean was a late scratch from the 800-meter run due to illness.

“I would never run my athletes when they’re sick, that can be dangerous,” UMass coach Julie LaFreniere said. “If I was their parents I wouldn’t want them out there either.”

In place of this trio included Ashley Palmer, who finished with a distance of 5.64 meters in the long jump, earning her a seventh place finish and the only points of the day for the Minutewomen (2).

In the open 3,000-meter race, Rachel Hilliard posted a time of 9:45.95, which put her outside of scoring for the meet. Two relay teams also competed over the weekend for UMass but were composed of a different lineup due to injury.

The 4×800 relay team composed of Krista Webb, Courtney Neves, Carly Zinner, and Kelsey Sheridan posted a time of 9:09.58 – which beat the qualifying time posted earlier in the season with MacLean and Hilliard in the lineup, but still fell short of scoring.

As for the distance medley relay, the team of Webb, Zinner, Neves and freshman Colleen Sands combined for a ninth place finish, just missing out on scoring.

“I wanted Hilliard to focus on the 3,000,” LaFreniere said. “And I also wanted MacLean to focus on the 800 (before the illness), so we went with a couple of athletes who don’t typically run in these relays and other teams really pumped theirs up with their best athletes and had some terrific times.”

LaFreniere added: “The runners we had in the relays for the most part either ran their best time of the season in their respective legs or the best of their careers, and you can’t ask for much more than that. When meets like this happen and things don’t go our way, we just need to brush it off and move on.”

Minutemen finish 39th

On the other side, UMass’ men’s team had fewer potential scorers in the field but finished with positive results.

“I mostly wanted to see how the athletes respond to this kind of environment,” Minutemen coach Ken O’Brien said.

UMass’ 4×800 relay team comprised of Cory Thomas, Michael McNaughton, Alex Finestone and Stephen Ness finished with a time of 7:39.76 and a sixth place result, scoring three points.

In the 1-mile run, junior Ben Groleau posted a time of 4:13.99, just two seconds off of his best mile time of the season. The time placed him 26th in the field as he fell short of the finals.

Although the Minutemen only finished with three points, O’Brien said that he is encouraged for the future that four of the five athletes who competed in IC4As will return next year along with the majority of the roster.

“As our team ages and gains experience, we will gain success and begin to climb the ladder,” O’Brien said.

Both teams are now finished with the indoor season. With the outdoor season looming on April 3, the Minutemen and women will look for a chance to make up for lost opportunities due to injury and to continue to grow and develop young talent.

Nick Souza can be reached at [email protected]