The University of Rhode Island men’s and women’s track and field teams visited Boston University for the New England Championships this past weekend, where they both finished in second place to Northeastern University.
The men’s team earned back-to-back second place finishes after placing second two weekends ago in the Atlantic 10 Conference Championships to host school George Mason University. This past weekend the Rams finished in second amongst 23 other teams competing with a final team score of 114 points, which only trailed Northeastern’s score of 177. Southern Connecticut State University (74.5), University of Massachusetts Amherst (48) and Sacred Heart University (38) made up the remainder of the top five. The Rams were led by their two relay teams and one individual who earned New England championships.
In the 4×400-meter relay, freshman Max Dickens, senior Jared Gray, junior Adam Franklin and junior Marlon Montague finished in first with a time of 3:17.10. Seniors Joe Dipalma and Alexander McGrainer, along with freshmen Sam Coppola and Griffin Cobb added to the relay success with a win in in the 4×800-meters with a time of 7:45.81
Sophomore Ryan Wilkes won the pole vault event for the second consecutive week with a jump of 16-feet, 0.75 inches. Other highlights from the event were sophomore Joseph Carter finishing 0.01 seconds away from earning a NEICAAA championship in his own right in the 200-meter dash. He finished second with a personal best time of 21.99 seconds. Junior Casey Burley also took home runner-up honors in both the long jump and the triple jump. Montague and Dickens joined several of their teammates in winning silver in the 500-meter and 400-meter finals, respectively
The second-place finishes, while being impressive feats indicative of the strength of program, made it difficult to keep pace with an abundance of top finishes for Northeastern. Head coach John Copeland knew going into the NEC’s that the Huskies were going to be the team to beat since they were coming off of a break ready to compete in their home city.
“I think the depth that [Northeastern] has got and I think they have got a pretty solid group all the way across the line,” Copeland said. “The other factor is they don’t have an indoor conference meet and we did so that makes it so we were a little more beaten up than they were.”
The lack of a conference tournament gave Northeastern an extra incentive to bring home the gold as they viewed the event as a chance to showcase their program which they did in a fairly dominant showing that included 21 personal bests. Copeland knows how difficult it is to attain victory when a team is in the midst of a masterful performance like Northeastern’s.
They had several events where they finished first and we finished second,” Copeland said. “If you are playing somebody and they are hitting three’s while you’re hitting two’s, you know who’s going to win the game.”
The women’s team also added prestige to their program with their own second-place finish. The 35-team competition was closely contested overall, but again saw hometown favorite Northeastern leave the field in the wind with a score of 151, nearly 100 points more than runner-up URI’s final tally. The Rams narrowly edged out Southern Connecticut State University (57) with a score of 59, while UMass Amherst (48) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (41.50) finished closely behind to round out the top five.
The highlights from the weekend’s events started with the 4×800-meter team relay team consisting of freshmen Lotte Black and Chelsea Lee and sophomores Saige Grazia and Katie McNulty placing second with a time of 9:17.26. McNulty also placed second in the 800-meter finals and Black finished in third place for the 1000-meter finals. The 4×400-meter relay team of senior Dyshelle Pemberton, sophomore Mikaila Amerantes and the freshmen duo of Kristina MacLure and Gabrielle Curtis also placed second at 3:47.04. Pemberton continued the trend by grabbing a silver medal in the 500-meter finals with a time of 1:15.85.
Assistant Head Coach John Melnick was content with his team’s second place finish as they just narrowly missed out on third the weekend before in the Atlantic 10 Championships by 0.5 points.
“We had a lot of really fine performances, [and] after A-10’s you still want to accomplish a few things,” Melnick said. “Latte Black, Katie McNulty and Dyshelle all had some great runs. It was disappointing being behind a couple points in the A10’s so it was great to close it out with the relays closing out well.”
Next for the men’s team is the IC4A Championship back in Boston this upcoming weekend, which coach Copeland will be a good final test for the upcoming outdoor season.
“We’re getting ready for the IC4A’s this weekend where we will be taking about a dozen guys back up there again, and then we are back into the outdoor season, which we are excited about,” Copeland said.
As for the women’s team they plan to stay back from this weekend’s ECAC championships where about five of their athletes qualified, in order to prepare for the outdoor season and catch up on some much needed recovery.
“We are going to take the ECAC meet off and focus toward outdoors that only starts in three weeks so it is a pretty short time frame for our team at the end of spring break. We need some time to get some recovery in and the team’s young so we want them to have gas for April and May,” Melnick said.