Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass men’s and women’s track and field set to perform this weekend in preparation for the Atlantic 10 championships

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Collegian File Photo

(Collegian File Photo)

With the Atlantic 10 championships right around the corner, The Massachusetts men’s and women’s track and field teams head into their respective meets this weekend in preparation for arguably its biggest event of the year.

The Minutewomen will compete in the Coaches against Domestic Violence tribute meet this weekend in Kingston, Rhode Island. This meet is being held at the same venue as A-10s two weeks later.

“I think it’s important to have the athletes get comfortable with the venue, especially events like sprinting, the throwing and the jumping events,” UMass women’s coach Julie LaFreniere said.

This will be the first time UMass’ freshmen will see Rhode Island’s facility. Unlike other venues like Boston University and Reggie Lewis Center, the track is completely flat.

“This will be the first time our team will compete on a flat track this season, and there’s a pretty big index, I think it’s a little bigger than it should be,” LaFreniere said.

The index is used for flat tracks when dealing with qualifying times for championship meets. Tracks that are banked run faster than tracks that are flat all the way around, and the index is added to the qualifying times to even the disparity.

LaFreniere hopes the Minutewomen can take advantage of the index and qualify more athletes for Eastern College Athletic Conference championships and regionals, which would add to the widespread group that already has.

While the athletes won’t be competing in their primary events, they will get a chance to prepare for what will be their events in two weeks time.

“For most of the runners, this will be the last meet on the schedule until A-10s,” LaFreniere said, “ Right now the main stress has been staying healthy, this close to the A10s I don’t want to see our athletes start falling due illness or injury”.

Minutemen travel to Yale

The Minutemen will compete in the Geigengack Invitational, which is in memorial to former Yale and Olympic track and field coach Robert Giegengack.

UMass men’s coach Ken O’Brien decided to forgo the meet in URI in order to compete in New Haven, Connecticut this Friday.

“We’ll still get a peak at teams from our conference like Fordham and La Salle,” O’Brien said. “But I decided to go down to Yale instead because I feel that a shorter, more low-key meet would be more beneficial to our athletes.”

The Minutemen typically head down to URI at this time of year to get the jumpers and throwers in particular acclimated to the facility in Rhode Island before A-10s, but O’Brien and the coaching staff felt they would be better served at home getting extra practice reps.

“The athletes that I’m really happy with, where they are in their respective events, are making the trip down. Those we’re not quite satisfied with yet, we’ve decided to leave on campus so they can work of consistency in practice,” O’Brien said.

While conference heavyweights like George Mason and the Rams will not be in attendance, the teams that the Minutemen will most likely be competing with include A-10 teams Fordham, La Salle and Saint Joseph’s.

Getting a peek at those teams is valuable and the Minutemen are still sending a quality group of competitors. The runners making the trip will do events that will help prepare them towards A-10 in two weeks.

“The conference is as open as it has been the past few years outside of the top three teams,” O’Brein said. “And we have some kids just outside of scoring range for conference, and that is why we are leaving some of them home.”

As far as qualifying for championships such as the IC4As and regionals, O’Brien has placed that on the backburner for now. He said he is confident his runners will qualify for each championship meet in the preceding championship meet.

Both teams will be sending some athletes to the Valentine Invitational next week, but for most athletes this will be the last competition before A-10s on Feb. 20.

Nick Souza can be reached at [email protected].

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