AMHERST, Mass. -
Coming off a slew of solid performances at last weekend's UNH Pre-Conference Meet, the UMass men's track and field team returns to Amherst this Saturday and Sunday for the highly anticipated A-10 Championships. This is the second-of-two home meets during the spring outdoor campaign for the Minutemen, and first championship meet at the UMass Track and Field Complex this spring.
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.
Wu Sets New UMass Long Jump Record
Senior Daniel Wu has been top notch this outdoor season for UMass in the long jump. The peak of his spring came last Saturday at the UNH Pre-Conference Meet (4/28) when the senior topped his teammate, Zachary Koncki, for the school's long jump record. Wu leaped 24-00.25 to steal first in the event, and rank top in the Atlantic 10 heading into the Conference Meet. The mark also sits 47th in the NCAA East Region.
Apart from the long jump, Wu has also been a solid competitor in the triple jump, ranking 13th in the A-10 with a season-best mark of 44-5.25 recorded at the AIC Invite on April 7.
Jumpers Aiming For New Heights
As just a freshman, Gregory Copeland has surged to fourth in the A-10 Conference in the men's pole vault with a season-best height of 14-9.00. Through the first three weeks of his inaugural collegiate outdoor campaign, the versatile jumper has recorded three top-5 finishes including ranking second at the UNH Pre-Conference Meet (4/28)
Junior AJ Grube set a new personal record in the high jump at the UNH Pre-Conference Meet (4/28) with a height of 6-4.25. The mark sits 12th best in the Atlantic 10 Conference, as Grube has emerged as UMass' top competitor in the event.
The young faces comprised of Quinn Ryder and Patrick Farnham have propelled the Minutemen through three weeks of competition in the 100 and 200 meter dashes. Farnham launched himself to the top 100 meter dasher on the squad this past Saturday, with a readout of 10.46 at the UNH Pre-Conference Meet (4/28) while placing third. Farnham's time ranks tenth in the A-10. Both Ryder and Farnham are tied for 19th in the Atlantic 10 in the 200 meter event with a season-best time of 22.20.
In the 400 meter dash, Aaron Araujo and Paul Grafov have been at the front of the pack for coach Ken O'Brien with the 13th and 19th best A-10 Conference times through three weeks. The North Dartmouth, Mass. native, Grafov, posted his top-season time at the Larry Ellis Invite (4/21) by crossing the line at 49.36 this past Saturday. With the new team-season-best time, Grafov moved up three spots in the A-10 rankings in the event from a week ago. The New Bedford, Mass. native, Araujo, zipped out a readout of 49.78 at the UMass Invite (4/14), marking a new career-best.
Ready For The Relays
Two relay teams rank in the A-10's top-10 in their respective events as of the week of April 23. In the 4x400 meter relay, Aaron Araujo, Evan Donadt, Zach Hildenbrandt, and Paul Grafov ran a 3:19.31 while placing 18th at the Larry Ellis Invite (4/21). The team's time sits seventh in the Atlantic 10.
The rebuilding process in the 110 meter hurdles has been expedited this season through the initial three weeks of the outdoor campaign. Sophomore standout Stephen Bigelow recorded a personal career-best time of 15.02 in the event in week one of the outdoor campaign (4/7), while capturing his first 110 meter hurdles victory of his career in week two at the UMass Invitational. Bigelow ranks tenth in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
Evan Donadt has been the face to watch in the 400 meter hurdles thus far for the Minutemen. The senior's top season time of 54.17 sits sixth-best in the A-10 Conference, and fastest on the UMass squad. His career-best time was reeled off just last spring with a readout of 53.98.
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 what was the top mark in UMass history last spring in the outdoor version of the event (23-10.75). The mark now sits second-best all-time at UMass, following teammate Daniel Wu's record breaking performance this past Saturday.
Koncki made his first appearance of the spring this past Saturday at the UNH Pre-Conference Meet (4/28). The senior recorded a time of 15.35 in the 110 meter hurdles, ranking 15th in the A-10. He also was digging into the sand in the long jump, his signature event, qualifying for the New England Championships with a mark of 22-7.00. Koncki's first jump of the season sits 11th in the A-10 heading into the weekend.
Since arriving on campus, Thomas Mullen has solidified himself as one to watch out for in the coming years. His top-season time in the 800 meter run ranks 15th in the A-10 at 1:53.84, recorded at the UMass Invitational (4/14). The readout is 2:19 off from the UMass record book. Jared Reddy was also a speedy sophomore at the home opener, as he logged a personal record time of 3:56.81 while placing second in the 1500 meter run.
It was a freshman leading the way in the 800 meter run at the AIC Invite (4/7) as Stephen Ness, out of Plymouth, Mass., placed fifth in 1:59.36.
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 has ran in both the 800 and 1500 meter runs through three weeks of the outdoor campaign.
Distance Core Goes Long
Roommates Patrick McGowan and Antony Taylor combined to take home the top two spots in the 5K at the AIC Invite (4/7) with times of 14:45.02 and 14:57.24. Taylor's time was a new personal record. McGowan's readouts ranks 17th in the A-10.
Daniel Joyce's readout of 32:30.60 recorded at the AIC Invite (4/7) in the 10,000 meter run, ranks 18th in the A-10. Joyce placed sixth in the event in week one, and qualified for the New England Championships.
Multis Making Moves
In the first decathlon only meet of the season, the Minutemen sent three competitors to the docket at the Holy Cross Invite. Mark Hewitt, Daniel Schwartz, and Conor Megee comprised the UMass contingent.
Hewitt placed fourth with a tally of 5801 points (fifth in the A-10), while Schwartz followed in fifth with 5774 (sixth in A-10). The story of the day came with a strong finish in the 1500 meter run as Schwartz took home first place with a career-best time of 4:23.26. Hewitt followed in second by crossing the line with a personal record readout of 4:30.59.
McKenna's Monster Throws
David McKenna has positioned himself as the top ranking Minuteman in both the hammer and discus throws. His farthest distances came at the AIC Invite (4/7) in the hammer throw with a mark of 139-11, and at the UNH Pre-Conference Meet (4/28) in the discus throw with a distance of 141-09.
In Durham, N.H. (4/28) Raymond Acciavatti emerged as the top javelin thrower for UMass this season. The first year threw the javelin a distance of 145-01 while placing 11th. The mark ranks 17th in the A-10.
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.