SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -
The UMass men's track and field team will open the 2012 outdoor campaign this Saturday at the American International College Invitational in Springfield, Mass. This is the second straight year that the Minutemen are traveling south to their in-state rival. The weekend's proceedings are set to commence at 10:30 a.m.
Koncki's Senior Stretch
Senior Zachary Koncki will complete his collegiate track and field career this spring. The Northampton, Mass. native returns from the indoor season after setting the school record in the long jump (24-00.25), along with recording the top mark in UMass history last spring in the outdoor version of the event (23-10.75).
Koncki will have his sights set on the NCAA East Regional Championships this spring, having six meets to qualify for the National Meet.
Apart from the jumps, Koncki comes back as UMass' top 110 meter hurdler following the graduation of Tyler Cotto last year. His top time of 14.78 sits just shy of the Masssachusetts' record book by 0.18 seconds.
McKenna's Monster Throws
For throws coach Darcy Wilson, David McKenna returns as the leading strongman for the Minutemen in the shot put, hammer throw, and discus throw. The senior's career-bests in each sit at 42-7.50, 160-06, and 149-09.
With the loss of Tyler Cotto to graduation last spring, coach Ken O'Brien will be in search of a new core of speedy hurdlers to compose his 110 meter hurdling core this spring. Returning from a strong indoor season will be Stephen Bigelow who has yet to compete during the outdoor season. Bigelow was UMass' top 60 meter hurdler only behind senior Zachary Koncki this winter. Bigelow was a New England Championship qualifier in the event during the indoor campaign.
In the 400 hurdles sophomore Aaron Araujo is at the top of the list in terms of career-best times. Araujo posted a personal record readout of 53.74 last spring as a freshman, which also marked a team best time as well. He was one-of-two Minutemen to travel to and compete in the USATF Junior Nationals last June.
Evan Donadt and Nick Otis will compliment Araujo as Donadt set a career-best in the 400 hurdles last spring by crossing the line at 53.98 on May 8.
Ryder was the Minutemen's anchor in the 100 and 200 meter events as a freshman last outdoor season. He posted team best times of 10.82 in the shorter of the two events, and a team best readout of 22.83 in the 200 dash.
Grafov was the speediest 400 meter dasher in 2011, recording a team, season, and personal best time of 49.14 at the UMass Pre-Conference Meet on April 30. The North Dartmouth, Mass. native was also UMass' top competitor during the indoor season in the 500 meter event.
The Greene twins were staples in the 200 and 400 meter events last spring, raking in four top-5 finishes between the two. McDonough and Hildenbrandt will offer versatility and depth for coach O'Brien, competing in both the dashing and mid-distance events.
Jumpers Aiming For New Heights
Apart from Zachary Koncki, UMass' jumping core will be comprised of a combination of new and old faces. Senior Daniel Wu, a 2011 A-10 Academic All-Conference member for the indoor campaign, will lead the way in the triple jump for the Minutemen. The Tenafly, N.J. native jumped a team season best distance of 44-10.75 in the event last spring. Wu also returns as UMass' second best high and long jumper.
In the pole vault, much ground and height will have to be made up in lieu of the graduated Sean Busch. Gregory Copeland was the Minutemen's top vaulter during the indoor season, posting a season best mark of 14-7.25 on Feb. 11. Look for sophomore Stephen Volk to add depth as well to the pole vault effort this spring.
Freshman Wesley Calhoun and junior AJ Grube provided depth for coach O'Brien in the jumping events this indoor season, and could see action this spring as well. Grube's specialty is in the high jump, holding a career-best mark of 5-8.50 as an outdoor competitor.
Ready For The Relays
Last spring, UMass was able to reel off five top-3 finishes between the 4x100 and 4x400 meter relays. Returning from those quads are Chris Greene, Ted Greene, Conor Megee, Quinn Ryder, Zach Hildenbrandt, Paul Grafov, Michael McDonough, Tom Mullen, and Nick Otis. The fastest of the 4x100 relay times from 2011 stood at 42.43 set by C. Greene, T. Greene, Ryder, and Tyler Cotto (graduated) on April 9. In the 4x400 event, Grafov, Hildenbrandt, Otis, and McDonough combined for a readout of 3:24.19 on April 16.
The best of the 4x800 meter relay times came on May 7 last spring with an IC4A qualifying time of 7:28.22. Mullen as well competed on that team, along with current junior Joe Doyle.
Since arriving in Amherst, Mullen has performed to impress in both the indoor and outdoor seasons. Last spring he competed in both the 800 and 1500 meter runs, recording the second-best team season time among those returning in 2012, with a time of 1:54.06. Mullen's top 1500 meter time stood at 4:02.88.
Doyle is the fastest returning 800 meter athlete, holding a career-best time of 1:53.52, which is about two seconds away from the UMass record book. The junior also competed in the 1500 meter run last spring, posting a season-best time of 4:01.09 on April 30.
Distance Core Goes Long
Seven of the 12 distance harriers for UMass will be returnees, with five newcomers being added to the squad this season. Leading the way are standouts from the cross country and indoor campaigns in the forms of Antony Taylor, Patrick McAllister, and Patrick McGowan.
McAllister returns as just one-of-three to have ran the 10K last outdoor season, and the only Minuteman back from that trio. The senior posted a season-best time of 31:05.65 on May 7, 2011 and qualified himself for the IC4A Championships last spring.
Apart from graduated senior Kevin Johnson, McGowan registered the best individual 5K time last spring for UMass. With a mark of 14:45.15 on May 8, the current sophomore placed fifth at the A-10 Championships. Taylor was also a fast leg on the distance core last outdoor season, as one of the top three 3200 meter harriers, and a solid addition in the 5000 meter run.
UMass Invitational To Be Televised
The UMass Athletic Media Relations office is proud to announce the televising of the second UMass track and field meet in program history. The UMass Invitational on April 14 will be broadcast via tape delay on CBS 3 NOW (Comcast Cable 293, Charter Cable 290, and UMass Cable 79) on Wednesday, April 18 at a time to be announced.
The broadcast team will include Adam Frenier on play-by-play, former UMass Academic All-American Jon Korhonen on color commentary, and Ethan Sobel on sideline interviews.
A-10's At Home
For the second time in three years, the Minutemen will host the Atlantic 10 Championships at the UMass Track and Field Complex. This will be the second-of-two home meets this spring with the UMass Invitational being held on April 14.
When UMass last hosted the Conference Meet back in 2010, Ken O'Brien's squad faired quite well, finishing fourth overall with 104 points. A-10 Championship central with the meet schedule, facility records, and A-10 Championship records can be found by clicking here.
O'Brien Pulling The Reigns
With head coach Ken O'Brien returning for his 45th season at the helm of the men's track and field program as the Minutemen own the most seasoned leader in the A-10 Conference. In O'Brien's 44 seasons coaching cross country and track and field at UMass, the Minutemen have won 19 conference titles (Yankee, Atlantic 10 and Eastern), four New England crowns, two IC4A titles and have had seven All-America performers. During the 2008 cross country season, O'Brien was named Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year, as the Minutemen finished first in the league. This was the second-ever Minutemen A-10 Cross Country Title, the first coming in 1995.
A long time contributor to the sport of track and field, O'Brien has served numerous regional and national associations. He served as secretary of the NCAA Cross Country Coaches Association from 1975-80, has been president of the IC4A coaches association and was re-selected to the coaching staff of the National Olympic Development Distance Runners Training Center at Lake Placid, N.Y.
A native of Foxboro, Mass., O'Brien won 10 letters in football, basketball, baseball and track and captained all four sports his senior year at Foxboro High School. O'Brien and his wife Claudia, reside in Amherst, Mass.
Behind O'Brien are third year assistants David Jackson and Darcy Wilson. Both have made the most of their stints in Amherst, helping to produce multiple UMass record book performances and A-10 Conference and New England Champions.
Completing his second season coaching for the Minutemen, Jackson has already set a track record for excellence, producing one NCAA East Region Qualifier (Brian Miller-high jump); six conference champions (Sean Busch - 2x indoor & 2x outdoor pole vault; Brian Miller outdoor high jump, & Zachary Koncki indoor long jump), one indoor New England Champion (Zach Koncki indoor long jump), and three school records (indoor pole vault (16'.75"), outdoor high jump (7' .25"), outdoor long jump (23' 10.75"). He also has helped yield one Atlantic 10 Field Event Performer of the Year(B. Miller), one A-10 Student-Athlete of the Year, a UMass Student-Athlete of the Year, two UMass Winter Student-Athletes, a Spring Student-Athlete of the Year (S. Busch), and multiple Student-Athletes of the Weeks as well UMass top three record holders.
Darcy Wilson enters her third season as an assistant coach for the UMass track and field programs. Wilson, who has worked with several NCAA qualifiers and an NCAA champion at the Division III level, will be coaching the throwing events for the Minutemen and Minutewomen.
Cameron Carter will also be on staff this season as a volunteer assistant coach. Carter was a four-year standout thrower at Colorado State University and is currently pursuing a Masters in Kinesiology at UMass.