The University of Rhode Island track and field teams opened their seasons last weekend, as the men’s team hosted their annual Blue-White Alumni Meet and the women’s team competed in the Alden Invitational in Providence.
The men’s program kicked off their season Saturday in a home meet at the Mackal Field House. Head coach John Copeland and his staff members were able to gain an idea of what to expect from their team in the 2016-17 season based on the competitive setting.
“I was pleased to see everyone back healthy in a track meet setting to get a look of what to expect this season,’ Copeland said. “What we see in practice opposed to in meets is a lot different so that is what the Blue-White Meet is all about, along with bringing Alumni back.”
Copeland was impressed with what he saw from his team, with senior Ondrej Honka finishing with the highest score for the pole vault, and fellow classmates John Stallworth and Mike DiMambro finishing first and second in the hurdles. One athlete in particular that stuck out to Copeland was junior Marlon Montague, who finished in first for the 400-meter run.
“(Montague) started slow last season as he was injured to start the year and it affected his running ability, but he is back to full health now and seems to be running better than ever,” Copeland said.
The men’s team has brought back 24 out of the 30 athletes that medaled during last season’s Atlantic-10 Indoor and Outdoor Championships to help defend their indoor title. Along with the strong returning class, the team brings in 32 new members to the roster.
The women’s track and field team competed in their first meet of the season against Brown University at their Alden Invitational in the Olney-Margolies Athletic Center in Providence, Rhode Island last Saturday. Senior Micaela McPadden won the 500 meters with a final time of 1:18.91, and junior Karlee Fowler placed first in the pole vault event with a jump of 11’5 ¼. The 4×400 team consisting of Dyshelle Pemberton, Kristina MacLure, McPadden and Mikaila Amerantes, who also finished in first place with a time of 3:58.29. Head coach Laurie Feit-Melnick was happy to be back with her team in the competitive atmosphere this season.
“We were pleased with the opener,” Feit-Melnick said. “Obviously you train all fall to see where everyone is at, and we had some good performances. We still have things to work on, but we were pleased with how the season opened.”
The team also had some solid performances from talented underclassmen in a handful of events. In the mile, sophomore Shelby Aarden placed second with her indoor personal best time of 5:12.24, and senior Courtney Hawkins finished right behind her in third with a time of 5:17.30. Freshman Tory Edwards finished third in the pole vault with a jump of 10’5 ½, and fellow freshman Juleen Lewis finished second in the long jump logging a score of 18’4 ½ giving her the new URI freshman record in the event. Sophomore Katie McNulty (1:19.14) and Natalie Sopchak (1:22.21) finished second and third in the 500-meter run.
“We had a huge and very talented class graduate, so we have 10 new freshmen, and a great sophomore class from last year,” Feit-Melnick said. “Everyone has to put in their part and we are looking forward to great things from our young people.”
The men’s team has a break until Jan. 7th when the host the URI Indoor High School Classic, and the women’s team returns to the track at Mackal Field House this Friday competing in the 22nd annual URI Pentathlon, beginning at 11:00 a.m.
“We are very excited for our team, and for teams to win championships they need to score well in every event so we are looking forward to it,” Feit-Melnick said.