It was the season opener for the UMass men's track and field team at the Sorlein Invitational in Rhode Island on Saturday. The meet was not scored by team, but if it had been, UMass would have been right in the mix for a top-three team finish. Zachary Koncki highlighted the indoor action at URI, while several new faces made their cases as strong additions to the Minutemen's squad moving forward this winter.
Returning from the 2011 indoor campaign as the reigning A-10 and New England indoor long jump Champion, Koncki wasted no time in continuing to push forward towards the school record at UMass. The Northampton, Mass. native claimed second in the long jump on Saturday while qualifying for both the New England and IC4A Championships in just week one. The mark of 23-1.75, sits just short of Koncki's career personal record, 23-6.25, also the third best mark in school history.
The UMass senior additionally qualified for the New England Championships in the 60 meter hurdles by crossing the line at 8.39 in the preliminaries of the event, while placing second.
Another senior jumper got out to a quick start on Saturday as Daniel Wu registered a mark of 22-7.75 in the long jump, taking home fifth place and a New England Championships qualifying mark. The versatile Wu also competed in the triple jump and 60 meter dash. Stephen Bigelow was the final New England Championship qualifier on Saturday as the sophomore clocked in at 8.32 in the 60 meter hurdle finals, claiming second place in the event while setting a new personal record in the event. Coming into this winter, Bigelow had yet to see consistent action during the indoor season.
Otis And Company Sharp In Season Debut
Nick Otis finishing second in the 800 meter run with a personal best time of 1:56.40 was a thrilling moment for the team on Saturday afternoon's season opener. Otis missed all of the 2012 season due to injury and now proven healthy, the senior will give his team a boost on the track. The local out of Williamsburg, Mass. just missed qualifying for the New England Championships by .40 seconds.
Quinn Ryder qualified for the NECs in the 60 meter dash and set a personal best of 7.00 while placing third in the event. Also qualifying for the New England Championships was Stephen Bigelow when he ran the 60 meter hurdles in 8.51 in the preliminaries.
Finishing third in the 400 meter dash was Paul Grafov. The standout senior crossed the finish line at 50.52. Also getting the job done on the track was the men's 4x400 squad. The quad placed fourth in the event, finishing at 3:23.81.
2012 In Review
In 2012 the men's squad graduated nine seniors, two of which stole the spotlight throughout the season. UMass fans swarmed to the UMass Track and Field Complex and all over New England in order to see their friends, family and two seniors competing for the all-time UMass long jump crown.
UMass graduates Zachary Koncki and Daniel Wu graduated last season after a season long battle for the best outdoor long jump mark in UMass history. At the season's end Koncki finished on top by a half-inch margin with a distance of 24-0.75, Wu finished the season second best all-time with a mark of 24-0.25. Koncki also leaves UMass as the indoor champion as well with a mark of 24-0.25.
The long jump record wasn't the only dent the 2012 team made in the UMass record book. Evan Donadt graduated with the fifth best time in the 400 meter hurdles finishing with a personal best of 53.18. Donadt also assisted in the fifth best 4x400 meter relay time in indoor competition at UMass. The record came during the IC4A Championships when Donadt, Aaron Araujo, Zachary Hildenbrandt, and Paul Grafov crossed the finish line at 3:15.67. It was also at the IC4A Championships when Grafov set the fourth best time in UMass history of 1:04.06 in the 500 meter run.
Grafov leads the five in accolades with his two UMass records he set or assisted in last season. Grafov has been a key part in the team's success on the track, setting the fourth best time at UMass in the 500 meter run (1:04.06) and assisting in the fifth best 4x400 meter relay time of 3:15.67.
Otis will bring depth to the team's sprint, mid-distance and relay events in 2013. A New England qualifier in an array of events and an eighth place finish in the 400 meter hurdles at the A-10 Championships. His personal best time of 56.88 as a sophomore in the event is less than three seconds away from topping Grafov's fifth-best all-time mark.
Grube competed in the 100 meter dash, long jump and high jump last season and was the team's best in the high jump. The senior set a career best 6-6.25 in the high jump at the indoor A-10 Championships.
Strong Core Of Returners
The 2012 men's track and field squad was built for the future with a total of 32 underclassmen. However with the 32 underclassmen now with another year of experience and a strong freshman class entering the 2013 season, the future may be already here. The team is returning their best athletes in a majority of their events.
In sprints junior, Quinn Ryder and sophomore, Patrick Farnham will lead the way. Ryder led the squad in the 200 meter dash and second in the 100 meter dash Farnham landed opposite of Ryder and held the season best time in the 100 meter dash, and was second in the 200 meter dash. The two will also factor in relays as well.
In distance events the team has a group of juniors just coming off of successful seasons in cross country this fall. Jared Reddy led the team in the 1,500 meter run last season with a season best time of 3:56.81. Antony Taylor is the team's top returner in the 3,000 meter steeple chase and the 5,000 meter run. Taylor is also coming off of an All-Conference season in cross country, finishing 11th overall at the 2012 A-10 Championships. Patrick McGowan set the pace in the 10,000 meter run during 2012 with his best time of 30:38.36 coming in the A-10 Championships. McGowan battled Taylor all season long in cross country for the top spot and was a big part of the team's success this past season.
Another sophomore to keep an eye on this spring is Gregory Copeland, the team's best in the pole vault, setting a season best 14-9 at the UMass Invite as a freshman. Copeland is one coaches are particularly excited about heading into the 2013 campaign and will look to build on a successful freshman season.
Peter Farlow had success his freshman season in the 400 meter hurdles. The sophomore was a New England qualifier in the event and posted his best time of the season at the A-10 Championships when he finished the hurdles at 54.46.
Raymond Acciavatti is the team's best returning thrower this spring. In his freshman campaign Acciavatti finished fifth in the javelin at the A-10 Championships with a season best 178-10, also qualifying for the New England Championships.
Freshmen Fast Facts
This year the Coach O'Brien and Coach Jackson have brought in eight freshmen, many of whom gained experience this fall during the cross country season.
Benjamin Groleau, Michael McNaughton, Daniel Sheldon and Quentin Stipp all ran cross country this fall. Groleau makes a case for the most success in his freshman season with three top four performances on the team with one first place finish. He was the only freshman to finish first in a meet in 2012. Stipp finished the season with two top three performances while Sheldon finished the season with four top five finishes on the team.
One freshman that didn't compete this fall was brother of Andrew Grube, Zack Grube. The freshman will compete in jumps and hurdles this spring and currently holds six records at his high school. Grube holds records in the 4x50 shuttle hurdles, indoor high jump, 55 meter hurdles, 4x400 meter relay, 110 meter hurdles, and the 400 meter hurdles.