UMass Photo Finish In 4x800 Caps Off Thrilling A-10 Championship
May 4, 2014
AMHERST, Mass. - On Sunday in Amherst, Mass., the University of Massachusetts finished the 2014 Outdoor Track and Field Atlantic 10 Championship tied for sixth with Saint Louis. In its first outdoor A-10 Championship George Mason earned the conference crown with Duquesne and VCU not far behind.
The 4x800 meter relay team of Courtney Neves, Meghan Leahy, Heather MacLean and Katie Powers turned in the most thrilling performance of the meet with Powers diving at the finish line for a photo finish to win the race. After the finish was reviewed it was announced Powers had crossed the finish line at the 9-minute, 0.22-second mark, beating out Fordham's Melissa Higgins by just one-hundredth of a second.
After two consecutive years of winning the New England Championship and rewriting the UMass record book, the addition of MacLean gave Neves, Leahy and Powers their first Atlantic 10 gold medal. The time is the fourth fastest outdoor 4x800 time recorded in UMass history and is the first time UMass has had a championship 4x800 team since 1996.
Together the group of Neves, Leahy, MacLean and Powers own three of the five fastest UMass 4x800 times recorded in outdoor competition and four of the five fastest times recorded in indoor competition. Neves, Powers and MacLean own the UMass indoor record as well.
The first place effort was not however MacLean's first outdoor A-10 gold medal. Earlier in the day and after claiming the UMass outdoor record the day before, the Peabody, Mass., native ran the fastest time in the 800 meter run to win her championship.
MacLean's championship race was a nail biter as well winning by just a tenth of a second. She finished the 800 meters in just 2-minutes, 9.26-seconds to edge Elise Farris of Duquesne at the 2-minute, 9.36-second mark.
After the meet the coaches decided to honor MacLean as the Women's Most Outstanding Rookie Performer for her accomplishments throughout championship weekend. To go along with her two gold medals MacLean ran the fastest outdoor 800 meter time in UMass history with her preliminary time of 2:08.78. The time was just milliseconds short of the facility and Atlantic 10 record.
With the two gold medals MacLean becomes the first Minutewoman to win two titles in the same A-10 Championship since Rhianna DaCruz in 2001 when she won the pole vault and javelin.
The third gold medal of the day came from the reigning Atlantic 10 Champion, Becky Stoyle in the triple jump. The junior claimed her fourth straight A-10 title with a leap of 40-feet, 5-inches, out jumping her peers by 1-foot, 1.5-inches. She is the first Minutewoman to win four consecutive Atlantic 10 Championships since Brandy Green swept the indoor and outdoor meets in 2002 and 2003.
Stoyle's gold medal tallied 10 of the 21 points the Minutewomen scored in the triple jump on Sunday. Courtney Kromko made her way to the podium after leaping the third best mark of the event. Her jump totaled 38-feet, 7-inches and was followed closely by a personal best performance from Lauren Avery's fourth place effort. The transfer's best jump equaled 38-feet, 4.25-inches.
Kelsey Crawford was the team's fifth Minutewoman to medal on the day with her second place effort in the shot put. The sophomore out of Houston, Texas threw 46-feet, 4.25-inches and led the way for Kaylee DeVincent and Maggie Riseborough. DeVincent threw a seventh place 41-feet, 4.25-inches while Riseborough placed eighth with a 39-foot, 10.75-inch mark.
In the heptathlon Katie Osborne finished in seventh place to score for the Minutewomen. She scored 4,274 points over the course of seven events in two days.
The first scoring performance of the day for UMass came from the 4x100 meter relay team. Kayla Baldwin, Ashley Winn, Brittany Green and Ashley Palmer combined for a finish at the 48.42-second mark to place seventh.
Next week the Mintewomen compete in nearby Westfield, Mass. There UMass will compete in the New England Championship at 12 PM.