Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass men’s track and field ready for lone chance at A-10 championship

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(Collegian File Photo)

In sports, there’s no question to what the most exciting time of year is: championship season.

Track and field is no different.

This weekend the Massachusetts men’s track and field team head to Rhode Island to compete at the Atlantic 10 Championship meet. Championship meets are quite different from other sports because in track and field, these athletes have just one shot – one weekend and the Minutemen will either be crowned champions or go home empty handed.

“In other sports like basketball or field hockey you have a tournament – You win, you move on, you win, you move on, and eventually you’re champions,” UMass coach Ken O’Brien said.

“My guys have one weekend, which for most of them is one event where they have to put everything on the line and try and put us in a good position among the other teams in the conference.”

O’Brien has spent long hours preparing the Minutemen for the meet, most of which comes from juggling athletes in different events to find out where their individual talent give them the best chance to win as a team.

However the most difficult aspect of preparing for the A-10 championship is that each team can only send three individuals to each event.

“The preparation was tough,” O’Brien said. “There was no luxury to experiment – we have to play to our own strength because we don’t know what the other teams will do.”

O’Brien has set realistic expectations for UMass and doesn’t expect it to walk away from Kingston, Rhode Island with the A-10 title. Instead, he believes that the Minutemen can finish on top of the middle of the pack.

“I believe that we are in the battle forth. There will be two tiers. URI, St. Joe’s and George Mason will be at the top of the pack while us La Salle, Dayton, and VCU should be in a tight battle for fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh,” O’Brien said.

“One thing that makes us stand out over some of the other teams in the middle of the pack is our depth. We have a really strong competitor in just about every event and those points will be a big boost to our team.”

As for particular athletes, O’Brien believes that the multi-event athletes will stand out the most. He has his eye especially on redshirt junior Kris Horn and senior Nick Ingham.

“What’s interesting about these guys (Horn & Ingram) is that they have to compete for two arduous days just to score one set of points. They really have to give it their best in all five events in the pentathlon to claim big time points,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien also believes that his senior class will be one of the deciding factors in how UMass will perform at URI.

“We have a fantastic senior class this year. They really did a phenomenal job bringing up our freshmen. That has been one of our main ingredients for success so far,” he said.

The two-day event is set to start at 9 a.m., both Saturday and Sunday.

Tyler Movessian can be reached at [email protected]

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