Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass track and field opens spring season at home

First of two home meets for UMass

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(Collegian file photo)

(Collegian file photo)

(Collegian file photo)

By Tyler Movsessian, Collegian Staff

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The Massachusetts men’s and women’s track and field teams prepare to open the outdoor portion of its schedule with a five-way meet against Vermont, Rhode Island, Boston College and Bryant. This will be one of two meets at home for the Minutemen, as they have used the month of March to rest, recover and refocus for an abbreviated season.

“It’s a very short season in outdoors,” UMass men’s coach David Jackson said. “But being outside is always nice and I’m really excited to see what some new guys can do.”

One athlete Jackson mentioned, Sam Downes, is making his debut. A graduate student who previously attended St. Lawrence University, he spent his four undergraduate years pitching for its baseball program. Downes has one year of eligibility and is hoping to make an immediate impact in the javelin for the Minutemen.

On the women’s side, Jackson also looks forward to coaching senior Lucy Belt, one of the few returners to the throwing team. Belt has continued to improve during her time at UMass. Last season she threw the javelin with a mark of 137 feet, four inches, which was good for sixth at last spring’s New England Championship meet.

As for other competitors, especially the newcomers, Jackson says it is difficult to expect that someone will perform particularly well due to the different atmosphere that a meet brings compared to a practice. He has hope and confidence that his team will deliver, but he will use this meet to gauge the direction he wants his team to go as the season progresses.

“I just hope that many of our athletes continue to perform the way they did in indoor,” Jackson said. “I’d like to see Danielle [Notarfrancesco] and Lauren [LaDere] throw well, Ashley [Arroyo] and Jessy [Iwuala] jump well and Kayla [Rorke] vault well. They are all very capable, but we will have to wait until Saturday to get a true sense as to where we are.”

Another big question mark for the Minutewomen will be the timetable on the return of junior Emilie Cowan. The Atlantic 10 runner up in the 400 meter, she battled sickness throughout indoor, ultimately deciding to redshirt the season. While Jackson is still unsure if she is race-ready, she has been practicing during the offseason in between indoor and outdoor.

However, the decision to race her may be more complex than it seems.

“While she seems healthy, we are still not sure if she will go on Saturday,” Jackson said. “We’d like her to go this weekend to see some of the top A-10 talent in URI, but at the same time, we also don’t want to push too soon.”

The meet will begin at 12 p.m. with action from both the Minutemen and Minutewomen happening simultaneously.

Tyler Movsessian can be reached at [email protected]and followed on Twitter @t_movsessian.

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