Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass track and field competes at Larry Ellis, Holy Cross over the weekend

Track in midseason swing

By Will Katcher, Collegian Staff

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With two weeks to prepare for the Atlantic 10 Championships, the Massachusetts men’s and women’s track and field teams split time between the Holy Cross and Larry Ellis Invitationals over the weekend.

Beginning on Thursday at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester and continuing Friday, Jonathan Collins and Michael Long of the men’s team participated in the decathlon, while Kira Kopec and Emma Jones of the women’s team competed in the heptathlon.

Collins won the decathlon, riding a first place in the 100 meters and top three places in the 400 meters, pole vault, shot put, discus and javelin. His consistency landed him 6,417 points, over 500 points ahead of his nearest competitor.

Coach David Jackson expressed that Collins may have had “a couple of miscues” during the meet, and that there was some work to be done in the two weeks leading up to A-10s, the year’s most important meet for the team. “[He] will be fine come A-10s,” Jackson said.

Kopec and Jones, both freshmen, placed third and fourth in the women’s heptathlon. Kopec took firsts in the 800 meters and shot put, while Jones took second and third in those events, respectively, as well as a third in the javelin.

The Minutewomen’s top multi-event athlete, Bridget Deveau, did not compete at the meet, with Jackson citing a lack of need for her to compete again. Deveau instead ran the 400 hurdles and threw in the shot put and javelin on Saturday at the Holy Cross Invitational. She won the javelin with a mark of 136 feet.

Also at Holy Cross on Saturday, junior Evan Burton turned heads in the discus, posting the best throw for the program in 18 years at 165 feet, 4 inches which qualified him for the New England Championships. “The throwers are certainly working well,” Jackson said, citing the leadership of throwing coach John Napolitano in getting them there.

The Minutemen also saw success at Holy Cross in the long jump, with Myles McDermott (fourth), Connor Williams (sixth) and Noah Kortkamp (seventh) all placing. “Myles McDermott is getting better every week,” Jackson said.

Beyond Burton, six other Minutemen earned trips to the New England Championships between Friday and Saturday. On Friday at the Larry Ellis Invitational at Princeton University, UMass’ three runners in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, Dawson Bathgate, Erik Engstrom and Eric Waterman, all qualified. Also at Larry Ellis, Michael Famiglietti (14:46) and Kendall Westhoff (14:51) qualified in the 5,000 meters.

At the Larry Ellis Invitational, the women’s team saw the usual success from Heather MacLean, one of the top runners in the A-10. She won her heat of the 1,500 meters and placed fifth overall with a time of 4:21, notching the top time in the conference this year. Also running for the distance team, Colleen Sands placed 21st in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 10:55.

Also at Larry Ellis, junior Emilie Cowan took first in the 400 meters in 54.79, while Lindsay Witt took 16th in the 100 meters. Both qualified for the New England Championships.

In field events, seven Minutewomen qualified for New Englands. Lauren LaDere (42 feet, 2 inches) hit the mark in shot put and teammate Danielle Notarfrancesco (46 feet, 8.75 inches) threw past the New England standard for the third straight week.

Mariah Collins qualified in multiple events, throwing 132 feet, 6 inches in discus and doubling back with a 164 foot, 2 inch toss in the hammer throw. Also qualifying multiple times was Deveau in the 400-meter hurdles and javelin.

The final New England qualifier of the weekend for UMass was junior Charlotte Robison with a mark of 18 feet, 1.75 inches in the long jump.

The Minutewomen are beginning to taper their training schedule leading to the many New England qualifiers according coach Julie LaFreniere. “This will allow the athletes to perform at higher levels,” she said.

Despite the New England marks, A-10s remains the focus for both teams. It is the sole determinant of conference placing, and following that meet there is a short turnaround time before New Englands, the intervening time filled with final exams. For the athletes, this leaves them in difficult race condition.

The teams will both return to action next Saturday for their final home meet of the season. LaFreniere’s hope is for MacLean, who is currently 63rd in the 1,500 in the NCAA rankings, to improve a few spots before championship season begins.

Will Katcher can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @will_katcher.

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