The University of Rhode Island men’s and women’s track and field teams finished in second and fourth place respectively this past weekend at the Atlantic 10 Conference Championships at George Mason University’s EagleBank Arena.
The men’s team was the only other track and field program that competed in the A-10 Championships that earned a final score in triple digits with 155.5 points, besides the winner and host school George Mason, who had a dominant showing with 214 points. The gap between the top two finishers and the rest of the leaderboard was substantial, as the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Saint Louis University and Davidson rounded out the top five with scores that did not exceed 70 points
The highlights for the men’s track and field team over the weekend competition began with senior Ondrej Honka finishing in second place in the heptathlon with 4,854 points behind George Mason’s John Seals. Honka also finished second in the 1000-meter run with a time of 2:48.33, second in the pole vault and earned eighth place in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 9.58 seconds.
A handful of Rams either finished in first or medaled in their specific events to help bring URI to their second consecutive runner-up finish. Senior Alexander McGrainer won the 1000-meter run finishing the event in 2:31.15, junior Darik Muroski won gold in the shot put with a throw of 15.46 meters, junior Casey Burley won the long jump at 7.36 meters, senior Brandon Amo won the weight throw with a throw of 18.41 meters and sophomore Ryan Wilkes won gold in the pole vault at 4.91 meters, edging out teammate Honka (4.95). Junior Jacob Reilly took home silver as he finished in second for the high jump at 1.99 meters while classmate Nigel Hill also finished in second for the 200-meters in 21.96 seconds. Junior John Stallworth claimed bronze in the final for the 60-meter hurdles, running the event in 8.17 seconds.
Head coach John Copeland was impressed with his team’s performance this weekend against a tough opponent in George Mason.
“I thought we had some pretty good things, we had five conference champions,” Copeland said. “George Mason is a really good team they have got quality people and nice depth. That has been something we knew that we were walking into, but that’s the conference, it’s going to be tough.”
The women’s team also finsihed near the top of the leaderboard, winning fourth place with 74.5 total points behind champion Virginia Commonwealth University, who scored 126.83. George Mason finished second (107), the University of Dayton came in third (75) and UMass (72) rounded out the teams that edged out the Rams. The team was propelled by freshman Juleen Lewis, who finished in second for the triple jump with a mark of 39′.10″ along with a fourth place result in the 60-meter dash. Lewis also won the long jump with a mark of 19′ .5″ on the opening day of competition. Lewis continued her exceptional freshman year indoor campaign, being named the Most Outstanding Female Track Performer by the A-10, and was the top point scorer for all women competing with 23 total points.
Assistant coach John Melnick has come to expect performances like this from Lewis, and is thrilled to see her consistent excellence recognized.
“Obviously she was the highest point scorer in the meet an integral part of what we accomplished at that meet for us, other past meets, and into the future,” Melnick said. “We are really excited for her and pleased that she got recognized for her accomplishments as the most outstanding track performer.”
“We were really pleased with how things turned out it was our first away meet for the indoor championships. I thought the team did a really good job with that,” Melnick said.
Lewis was not URI’s lone standout though, as the team flaunted their depth. On day one, freshman Tory Edwards earned second place in the pole vault (11′ 5.75″), while junior Karlee Fowler earned bronze (10’11.75″). Senior Hannah Madison also had a productive Saturday for URI, placing in the top ten for all six of her events. Madison took home three medals, winning the 800-meters (2:25.51), grabbing silver in the pentathlon and taking third in the high jump. On the track on Sunday, freshman Lotte Black earned silver in the 1000 meters (2:55.85), and the 4×4 relay team of seniors Dyshelle Pemberton, Kristina MacLure, Gabrielle Curtis, and Mikaila Amerantes also earned silver (3:48.48).
Melnick and his team now look forward to their indoor season finale at the New England Championships this weekend. “I think this will be an exciting conclusion to the indoor season,” Melnick said. “So hopefully people are healthy and ready to go, and we haven’t been in the Reggie Lewis Center for a while so we are excited for that.”
The indoor championship season continues for both the men’s and women’s teams when they both travel to Boston, Mass. for the New England Championships hosted by Boston University, which will take place this Friday and Saturday starting at 10 a.m.
“I think the team to beat right now is Northeastern, as they don’t have an indoor conference that they go to so they are dying for a meet at this point,” Copeland said. “They are a strong team much like George Mason they cover all of the events and are pretty deep in all of their events. They will be our toughest opponent going in there. I expect for our team to either finish in first or second this weekend.”