Track and field teams share success in postseason warm-up meets

The men’s track and field team competed at the Larry Ellis Invitational last Saturday in Princeton, NJ, and the Holy Cross Quad Meet on Monday, while the women’s team took second place at the Holy Cross Invitational.

On Saturday, the men’s track and field team started their busy weekend at Princeton University. Junior John Stallworth was the star of the meet, earning the Atlantic 10 Performer of the Week honors for his spectacular performances. This was the first time he earned the award during his college career. He was the only Ram to win an individual event, finishing first in the 110-meter hurdles in a conference-leading time of 14.43 seconds. He was also a part of the 4×400 team that finished in first and set the seventh-fastest time in program history at 41.45 seconds. The team consisted of Stallworth, fellow juniors Joseph Carter and Nigel Hill, and senior DeAngelo Berry.

Head coach John Copeland has been impressed with Stallworth’s development, and his ability to perform well this past weekend in preparation for postseason meets.

“He has been coming along all season, and now he is starting to show us some of what his potential is toward the end of the year,” Copeland said. “He has not run a personal best yet, but he is not far from it he is little over a half a second away from it. So we are looking for good things from him particularly when we get to the conference tournament.”

Hill would finish in fourth place for the 100-meters (10.78 seconds), sophomore Adam Franklin finished fourth in the 400-meter hurdles (53.30 seconds) and classmate Rylan Wilkes took fourth in the pole vault (16′ 4.75″).

On Monday, the men’s team traveled to the College of the Holy Cross to compete in the Holy Cross Quad Meet on Monday, where URI won seven events. The Rams dominated the 1500-meter run, finishing in four of the top five spots with sophomore Abdullah Kaba winning (4:00.68), sophomore Timothy Slack coming in second (4:00.70), sophomore Nicholas Celico finishing in third (4:01.37) and freshman Connor Gralton coming in fifth (4:06.79). The Rams earned the top-two spots in the hammer throw with senior Alex Briggs winning (184′ 4″), and sophomore Olusegun Vasin clinching second (177′ 3″). Freshman Sam Coppola won the 800-meters (1:56.73).

Redshirt freshman Gregory McManus won the javelin toss at 57.78 meters (189′ 7″). Freshman Peyton McAllister won the pole vault (15′ 5″). Junior Jacob Moran won the long jump at 6.87 meters (22′ 6.5″). Junior Abdul-Lateef Orulebaja took first in the triple jump leaping 13.54 meters (44′ 5.25″). Freshman Childress Cannon finished second in the 100-meter (11.20 seconds) and sixth in the 200-meter (22.96 seconds).

Copeland was impressed with his teams performances in both of the two meets, and believes they are prepared for the upcoming Penn Relay’s and postseason meets.

“I thought we had a really pretty outstanding meet,” Copeland said. “As we go into Penn Relays, we are taking probably about a dozen guys down there. We try not to focus much on championship meets during the season because there is so many other things that we are trying to work on. But now that we are two weeks away kids are starting to say, ‘oh we’re ready.’”

The women’s track and field team sent three athletes to the Holy Cross Heptathlon last week-Seniors Janel Conley and Hannah Madison, and junior Kylie McPherson. Conley was the star at the heptathlon earning her third career Atlantic 10 Performer of the Week award as a co-performer. This is the second time this season she has earned the conference performer of the week award. Conley set a new URI record of 54:07, breaking her old record that she had set by more than 50 points. On the second day of the event, she had a multi-event personal best of 5.88 meters in the long jump, an all-time personal best 2:21.03 in the 800-meter, and 32.75 meters (107′ 5″) in the javelin throw. Following the heptathlon, Conley earned a ranking of No. 22 nationally in the event.

Assistant coach John Melnick and the rest of the coaching staff are extremely impressed and proud of Conley’s accomplishments, and look for her and the other two heptathlon competitors to impress in the upcoming meets.

“We are really thrilled for her, I mean two years ago her personal best was in the 4,600’s in the heptathlon,” Melnick said. “Now she is not that far off going into 5,600, and staying top 25 in the country is a really big deal. So we could not be more happy for her and she is just an outstanding long jumper and hurdler. They did a great job all three of them so we are really happy for her, and look forward to the next three upcoming meets.”

At the Holy Cross Invitational, the Rams earned a second straight second-place team finish with 141 team points, following their runner-up finish at the UConn Invitational on April 15. Host Holy Cross finished in first with 219 points, and Stonehill College rounded out the top three with 123 team points.

Junior Karlee Fowler won the pole vault with a height of 3.35 meters (10′ 11.75″) while freshman Juleen Lewis won the 100-meter dash with a time of 12.36 seconds. The 4×400-meter team of senior Micaela McPadden, freshmen Lotte Black and Gabrielle Curtis, and sophomore Katie McNulty, won with a time of 3:56.48. Junior Breann Burns finished first in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 14.48 seconds. McNulty also won the 800-meter with a time of 2:15.09.

Sophomore Mikaila Amerantes finished first in the 400-meter with a time of 57 seconds flat. Classmate Leah Wolf won the discus throw with a distance of 41.86 meters 137′ 4″). Senior Grace James, who was the only athlete to compete at the Larry Ellis Invitational the day before taking 17th place in the hammer throw at 50.33 meters (165′ 1″), also took second place at Holy Cross throwing 50.01 meters (164′ 1″).

Melnick believes the team is well-prepared for the postseason after a solid showing.

“All of the winners did a really good job of racing well, and it was solid for what we had,” Melnick said. “We will have everybody doing what events that we think they need to this coming weekend.”

Next for the men’s track and field team will be the Penn Relays from Friday April 28 to Saturday April 29 beginning at 9:00 a.m. The women’s team will only send one athlete to the Penn Relays (Grace James)  that will begin a day earlier on April 27, while others will be competing in the Stonehill Invitational on Saturday April 29 in Easton, Massachusetts starting at 10:30 a.m.