UMass track and field begins championship season Friday

Each team will race Friday and Saturday at the New England Championships

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UMass track and field begins championship season Friday

Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Collegian

Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Collegian

Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Collegian

Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Collegian

By Sean Richardson, Collegian Staff

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On Friday, the Massachusetts men’s and women’s track and field teams will start their championship racing seasons with the New England Championships in Boston. It will be each team’s first multi-day meet with races happening Friday and Saturday.

At last year’s meet, 24 men’s teams and 30 women’s teams competed, with Northeastern’s men’s and women’s team each taking home the title. The Minutewomen earned a respectable sixth place while the Minutemen struggled and finished at 16th overall.

After a successful day of competition at last week’s John Terrier Classic, with over 10 personal records in five different track events, the men’s team seems destined to improve on last year’s mark. Head coach David Jackson expects the same after praising his athletes for what they’ve already been able to accomplish.

“I’m expecting big performances from everyone,” Jackson said. “A big performance is competing well and getting W’s, not just for an individual but for the team. That’s one of the big things that we have been striving for as a team and that we want to be the best, which means that we have to compete the best.”

One Minuteman athlete to keep an eye out for is Michael Cuthbert. His 21.73 mark at the Terrier Classic would have placed the sophomore third at New England’s last year, and he looks to improve upon that mark in the upcoming meet.

The Minutewomen continued UMass’ success at the Terrier Classic, headlined by Emile Cowan who had a winning mark of 1:11.28 in the 500 meter and finished second in the 200 meter sprint. Jada Harris also had a big-time performance, as the senior broke her own school record in the 60 meter hurdles en route to a second-place finish in the event.

Head coach Julia LaFreniere believes that each athlete is just beginning to scratch the surface of their potential for the rest of the year and that both Cowan and Harris will “dominate” once the Atlantic 10 championships roll around in late February.

Even though the A-10’s are the pinnacle of each team’s season, LaFreniere emphasized that she is focused on this weekend’s meet and how they can build on each athlete’s performance.

“I’m looking at every individual event,” LaFreniere said. “We’re going to see where our athletes are, where we need improvement and how we can hone and improve for the A-10 championships.”

Along with Cowan and Harris, the women’s field events are also expected to do well. Sophomore Danielle Notarfrancesco has had a strong season so far, finishing third in shot put at the Terrier Classic with a toss of 45 feet, 10.75 inches.

Kayla Rorke jumped 10 feet, 11.75 inches in pole vault and finished sixth-place at the Terrier Classic. Fellow senior Bridget Deveau also placed sixth in the long jump with a leap of 17 feet, 11.75 inches.

The meet will take place at the Reggie Lewis Center and will start at 10 a.m. on Friday with the 60 meter hurdles for the women’s pentathlon. Racing will conclude Saturday evening with the women’s 4×400 event.

Sean Richardson can be reached at [email protected]