CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -
The final meet of the outdoor track and field season has arrived for the Minutemen, this Thursday through Saturday at the New England Championships. The meet is being hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. with start times of 1 p.m. on day one and 10 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. UMass will use its final regular season competition to try and qualify additional competitors for the NCAA East Regional Championships beginning May 24 in Jacksonville, Fla.
Koncki & Wu Battling For School Record, NCAA Regionals
The peak Zachary Koncki and Daniel Wu's outdoor senior campaigns have occurred in the past two weekends in the long jump at the A-10 Championships (5/6) and the UNH Pre-Conference Meet (4/28) respectively.
In Durham, N.H. Wu set what was the school record at the time in the long jump with a leap of 24-00.25. Koncki bested his teammate this past Saturday at the A-10 Championships in Amherst with a mark of 24-00.75, to reclaim his school title. Currently the duo rank 57th and 59th with Koncki being on top, in the NCAA East Region. The UMass seniors will have one more chance to reach the top-48 and qualify for the Regional Meet in Jacksonville, Fla.
Distance Core Goes Long
A total of five competitors are qualified for the New England Championships between the 5K and 10K for the Minutemen. Solidifying their spots in Boston, Mass. this weekend at the A-10 Championships were Patrick McGowan and Zachary Florence in the longer of the two events, and Jared Reddy in the 5K. The Mansfield, Mass. native, McGowan, reeled off the team's top season time in the 10,000 meter run with a readout of 30:38.36 while placing sixth. Florence followed his sophomore teammate in 31:42.83, also good enough to qualify for the NEC's. McGowan is also qualified for the weekend in the 5000 meter run. Reddy competed in the 5000 meter run on Sunday (5/6), and crossed the line at 14:46.90, taking home 12th.
Antony Taylor stepped up his game at the Atlantic 10 Championships, by setting a new personal record in the 5000 meter run by nearly 20 seconds. The readout of 14:37.87 was good enough for fifth place and four points for UMass. Taylor is also the sole Minuteman qualified to run the 3000 meter steeplechase at the New England Meet, with a season-best time of 9:38.59 recorded at the UNH Pre-Conference Meet (4/28) just two weeks ago.
Daniel Joyce is the final member of the harrier core that is set to compete this weekend at MIT. His time of 32:30.60 set in week one was good enough for sixth at the AIC Invite (4/7).
The young faces comprised of Quinn Ryder and Patrick Farnham have propelled the Minutemen in the 100 and 200 meter dashes. Farnham launched himself to the top 100 meter dasher with a readout of 10.46 at the UNH Pre-Conference Meet (4/28) while placing third. Ryder followed his younger teammate's lead at the A-10 Championships (5/5), by recording a personal-best in the 100 meter dash prelims with a time of 10.81, propelling him into the finals of the event this past Sunday. The North Easton, Mass. native ended up placing fifth in the finals of the event at the UMass Track and Field Complex. Both Ryder and Farnham lead the way for UMass as well in the 200 meter event with season-best readouts of 22.20 for both.
In the 400 meter dash, Paul Grafov and Zach Hidenbrandt have been at the front of the pack for coach Ken O'Brien. 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. Hildenbrandt's season-best came this past weekend at the A-10 Championships (5/5) in the prelims where he produced a time of 49.39, good enough to qualify for this weekend's NEC's.
Ready For The Relays
The Atlantic 10 Championships brought the fastest legs forward this season in all three relay events for the Minutemen. In the 4x100 event on Sunday, Stephen Bigelow, Patrick Farnham, Joshua Arons, and Quinn Ryder clocked in with a time of 42.82, while placing ninth in the event. Following their lead, Evan Donadt, Zach Hildenbrandt, Paul Grafov, and Jacob Reed also reeled off a team season-best time, but in the 4x400 meter relay with a team readout of 3:17.71, also good enough to qualify for the New England Meet this weekend. Finishing up the relay events for UMass and NEC qualifiers was the 4x800 team comprised of Thomas Mullen, Michael Giardina, Jared Reddy, and Antony Taylor with a time of 7:46.83 while grabbing eighth in the event. All three squads will compete this weekend in the state's capital.
The rebuilding process in the 110 meter hurdles has been expedited this season with the help of Stephen Bigelow and Evan Donadt. Bigelow, the sophomore standout 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.
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 53.18 came this past weekend at the Atlantic 10 Championships, where he set personal records in back-to-back days in the prelims and finals of the 400 hurdles. The mark on Sunday signaled the fifth-best in UMass history. Donadt is also NEC qualified in the 110 meter hurdles, with a top season readout of 15.33 coming at the A-10 Championships (5/6) as well.
In his first meet back from injury, Zachary Koncki qualified for the NEC's in the 110 meter hurdles, returning as the Minutemen's top competitor in the event heading into the outdoor campaign. The Northampton, Mass. native's time of 15.35 ranked fourth at the UNH Pre-Conference Meet (4/28) just two weeks ago.
First Year Copeland Aiming For New Heights
As just a freshman, Gregory Copeland has surged to the top for UMass in the men's pole vault with a season-best height of 14-9.00. Through four 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). Copeland will test his luck this weekend at the New England Championships.
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 of 1:53.84 was recorded at the UMass Invitational (4/14) and is the best on the team this season. The readout is 2:19 off from the UMass record book. Mullen will compete at MIT this weekend.
Multis Making Moves
With a tally of 5989 points, Daniel Schwartz sits 84th in the NCAA East Region in the decathlon. The redshirt senior recorded his top-season mark in the event this past weekend a the Atlantic 10 Championships (5/6) in Amherst. The highlight of the ten events for Schwartz came in the 1500 meter run, where he took home first place in 4:20.22.
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.