The University of Rhode Island men’s and women’s track programs visited the University of Connecticut this weekend, with the men taking second in the Northeast Challenge, while the women earned their own runner-up finish at the UConn Invitational.
The men’s team finished with an overall team score of 137 points, well behind host school and winner Connecticut’s 268 points. Rounding out the top three teams was the University at Albany who finished in third with 51 points.
Head coach John Copeland was proud of his team’s performance at UConn, and knew it would be a tough feat trying to defeat the home team.
“UConn is for real, they are a good team,” Copeland said. “I thought we did a pretty good job with them, I was particularly happy with some of the throwers, Casey Burley, our 4×4 team, and some of our sprinters. It was their senior day and they had a lot of parents there. So many more people show up when it is a home meet, and it is critical.”
The 4×400-meter team of freshman Yeury Galva, juniors Adam Franklin and Marlon Montague, and senior Jared Gray won first place in their event with a time of 3:16.67. Junior Casey Burley earned Atlantic 10 Co-Performer of the Week honors for the third time this season, after setting a personal best in both the long jump (24′ 6.5″) and the triple jump (49′ 9.75″). Burley took second place in the long jump, but had the second-greatest jump in program history. Burley’s triple jump placed him in fourth at the competition, but was also fourth-best all time in program history.
Franklin also took second place in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 54.02. Sophomore Ryan Wilkes earned a second place finish in the pole vault (15′ 11″) and senior Ondrej Honka finished third at the same height, but had more attempts. Juniors Nigel Hill (21.78 seconds) and Joseph Carter (22.36), and senior DeAngelo Berry (22.36 seconds) finished as the top three in the 200-meter.
Copeland and his team will next look to finish strong at the Larry Ellis Invitational in Princeton, New Jersey next weekend, as they prepare for the postseason.
“From here on in there are no gimmes, and it’s going to be interesting,” Copeland said. “We will be facing most of the teams in the northeast, Ivy League schools will be there, and everyone from New Jersey or New York.”
The women’s track and field team also grabbed the team silver in their competition at Storrs, with an overall score of 159 points, also finishing behind UConn (200). Northeastern University took home the bronze with 64.5 points.
Assistant coach John Melnick was impressed by his team’s ability to once again finishing near the top of the leaderboard, and have some of the best performances of the season.
“We were really pleased, I mean we had over 20 season, and personal best performances,” Melnick said. “We have just been talking about our need to keep preparing. The preparation has been good, we finally had a pretty nice opportunity and we really took advantage of it.”
Senior Janel Conley added notches to her impressive career with a first-place finish in the long jump, reaching a distance of 5.88 meters (19′ 3.5″), and finished second in the 100-meter hurdles clocking in at 14.53 seconds. Freshman Juleen Lewis continued her torrid freshman season, winning second in the long jump at 5.62 meters (18′ 5.25″). Senior Dyshelle Pemberton was unmatched in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:02.49. Junior Karlee Fowler (11′ 3.75″), and senior Amber Sekoll (10′ 10″) finished first and second, respectively, in the pole vault. Junior Rebecca O’Donnell clinched gold in the triple jump with a mark of 11.54 meters (37′ 10.5″).
The 4×100-meter relay team of freshmen trio Kristina MacLure, Dominique Twombly and Lewis, and senior Dyshelle Pemberton ran to a second-place finish at 47.48 seconds. Freshman Lotte Black also earned silver in the 800-meter (2:14.00), and sophomores Elaina Hobbs and Carleisha Forteau tied for second in the high jump at 1.59 meters (5′ 2.5″).
Next up for the women’s track and field team will be split squad meets; a heptathlon at the College of Holy Cross on Wednesday and Thursday before sending a group of athletes to the Larry Ellis Invitational on Friday and Saturday.
“We are only a couple weeks away from the conference schedule moving back into the Atlantic 10, and New England’s,” Melnick said. “The team has been taking advantage of every opportunity they had so we’re excited.”