Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass track and field prepares for back-to-back days of tough competition in Boston

After four weeks of training, UMass heads to the 2020 New England Championship indoor meet
Jon Asgeirsson
Jon Asgeirsson

Massachusetts track and field will travel to the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston this weekend for the New England Championship meet. Friday and Saturday will be filled with the best D1 competition around New England, offering an ideal setting for athletes to perform at the top of their potential.

“The New England Championships are really important because it gives our kids a chance to compete in a championship setting,” men’s head coach and women’s assistant David Jackson said. “It forces them to come back on day two. It forces them to be in a position where they understand that everybody getting in scoring position matters.”

Four weeks have gone by since UMass runners, throwers, jumpers, hurdlers and multi-athletes returned to begin training for the 2019-20 indoor season. Several athletes have established themselves, bringing attention to each event they compete in.

Jada Harris, Emilie Cowan and Coston O’Brien are some of many such athletes who are ready to make their mark against the field in Boston.

Senior Jada Harris, UMass’ No. 1 60-meter hurdler and high jumper, is yet again dominating the A-10 conference in her events, but it’s what she did at the Terrier Invitational that displayed her ability to have a breakout performance at any time.

Harris set the new school record in the 60-meter hurdles her last meet, placing second with an impressive finish of 8.38 seconds. Teammate Emilie Cowan set a personal best and ran a winning 500-meter time of 1:12.62 to join Harris in the high jump and Coston O’Brien in the weight throw as winners in their events.

After placing in last year’s New England Outdoor Championship meet in the discus, O’Brien aims to do the same this weekend. At the Terrier Invitational, O’Brien proved his worth in the weight throw by putting up a distance of 18.62 meters, further than any UMass thrower in the entire 2000s to date.

Performances are expected to elevate this time of the season, and athletes from every university will be eager to show off their talent during the New England Championship meet.

The ultimate goal for both UMass teams is to win the conference meet at the end of the season. Essentially, every meet beforehand is seen as training environments similar to practice, and the highly competitive New England Championship signals one month to go until the A-10 Championship.

“We are at a point where we need to start to sharpen the knife,” Jackson said. “We’ve done a lot of heavy work. We’ve run multiple events, multiple-day meets, and now we are at the point where we are preparing to taper a bit and allow our kids to feel a little more fresh.”

Tapering includes certain, unannounced athletes not competing in the subsequent Dartmouth College meet and Valentines Invitational whose events will have to wait for the end of February.

UMass will fill events for Friday and Saturday, however. A look ahead would not be complete without mentioning the diverse multi-athlete Kira Kopec, the women’s distance team, or the throwers on either UMass team, who have all shown progression and consistency to this point.

4×800 and distance medley relay teams are assembled for the Championship meet, hoping to display the collective effort prevalent all season. The two teams on the men’s side will give a preview of what can be expected ahead of the A-10 relays.

“Some of the people you see [in the 4×800 and distance relay teams] will be the people running the relays in the conference meet,” Jackson said, “This will be a test of their character and how they compete, not necessarily their times. What we are looking for is a focus on competing and staying in the race.”

The meet begins at 10 a.m. on both Friday and Saturday.

Justin Ekstrom can be reached at [email protected].

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