Track and Field Share Great Performances at David Hemery Invitational
The University of Rhode Island men’s and women’s track and field teams visited Boston University for the David Hemery Valentine Invitational and had impressive showings with a handful of athletes earning personal, season and program bests.
Although the David Hemery Invitational was a non-scoring event, athletes on both the men’s and women’s teams utilized the competitive setting as an opportunity to prepare for next weekend’s Atlantic 10 Conference Championship meet. The women’s team had quite a productive outing, especially from freshman Juleen Lewis who placed second overall in the triple jump with mark of 40′ 6″.
The score made Lewis the first collegian to earn a personal best while also qualifying for the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championships (ECAC), which take place in early March. Lewis is now in exclusive company for the URI women’s track and field program, with the third best triple jump score in Ram history, trailing only alumni Pascale Delaunay’s jump of 41′ 4.25″ and Amanda Fraser’s jump of 41′ 3″. If that was not enough, Lewis also finished fifth in the 60 meter dash with a personal best and ECAC time of 7.69 seconds.
Another stand out was junior Karlee Fowler who tied for sixth place in the pole vault matching her season best mark with a score of 11′ 11.75″. Sophomore Katie McNulty finished ninth in the 500-meter run with a New England Championships qualifying and personal best time of 1:17:21. Senior Dyshelle Pemberton finished 22nd in the 200 meter dash with a time of 25.3 seconds, a season best that also qualified her for the New England Championships. Head coach Laurie Feit-Melnick seems to feel quite confident with the shape that her team is in a week before A-10 Championships are set to kick off.
“We are very excited about the meet coming up obviously,” Feit-Melnick said. “We have been preparing for this a long time, and then we will prepare for outdoors when this season ends. But we have a great group of women and we are basically just looking for a great team performance, and that is trying to score in every event. We are looking for a top three finish.”
The men’s team had an equally successful weekend, with some athletes sitting out as they had already qualified for championship meets before the non-scoring meet began. Sophomore Ryan Wilkes was one of the day’s brightest stars, setting a personal record in the pole vault with a height of 5.1 meters, the third highest pole vault height in the history of the program. Naturally, head coach John Copeland held the performance in high esteem.
“The most impressive performance was Wilkes in the pole vault,” Copeland said. “He jumped for his best score ever and that was a competition that took six hours to finish so he got there early and had to sit around before getting it together and doing a nice job. I was very impressed with that performance.”
On the track, junior Jaleel Felton earned a season best time of 48.95 seconds in the 400-meter dash, good for a season-best and 31st place overall. Fellow 400- meter dash runner freshman Max Dickens won his heat and set a personal record finishing in 18th overall with 48.6 seconds. Sophomore Nicholas Celico competed in the 3000-meter run, finishing in the top position for URI with a personal best time of 8:42.77.
Looking toward the Atlantic-10 Conference Championships next weekend, Copeland has high expectations, but is being realistic with the level of competition his team is up against, especially the team with home field advantage.
“I think right now we are looking realistically at second place being where we should end up,” Copeland said. “Hopefully we’ll be there. I mean you never know what will happen with the competition either our guys will step up a little bit or they might have someone fall down a bit, but that is all part of the competition. Having a home meet for them (George Mason University) is certainly going to be a tremendous boost for them as they have a small facility that they will fill with spectators.”
Both the men’s and women’s teams will visit Fairfax, Virginia this weekend, beginning at 9 a.m. Friday, to battle for the always illustrious A-10 crown.