Boston U. Edges Albany as Preseason Outdoor Track & Field Favorite
Boston U. received five first-place votes and 61 points overall to edge out Albany, which received the other four first-place votes and 60 points, from the top spot in the poll. UMBC collected 42 points to take third as New Hampshire followed closely with 40 points. Vermont and Binghamton checks in at No. 5 and No. 6 after grabbing 37 and 30 points while Maine (26), Stony Brook (19) and Hartford (9) complete the poll.
Fresh off its 2012 indoor championship, Boston University has the talent to unseat the three-time defending champion Danes. The Terriers took gold in seven events in 2011 and bring back the Most Outstanding Track and Field performers to go for the championship sweep. Shelby Walton (Danbury, Conn./Danbury) won the 100 and 200 meter dashes and led the 4x100 relay team to gold while Allison Barwise (Orange, Conn./Amity Regional), coming off an All-American indoor season, looks to defend her heptathlon and high jump titles. Senior Katie Matthews (Rocky Hill, Conn./Rocky Hill) also returns to the track after missing the end of the indoor season with to illness.
Albany returns a strong core of all-league performers including the 2011 champions in the discus throw and 400 meter dash. Junior Allison Rogers (Amherst, N.Y./Amherst Central) took the top spot in the 400 with her time of 54.52 and senior Catie Coxon (Delanson, N.Y./Duanesburg) posted a winning throw in the discus last season. Since 2002, Albany’s first year in the conference, the Danes have finished in the top three overall team standings in all but one season, including winning six conference titles.
UMBC exceeded expectations at the indoor championships and will look to do the same during the outdoor season. The Retrievers grab the No. 3 spot in the poll thanks in large part to freshman sprinting sensation Mercedes Jackson (Huntington, Md./Huntington). The rookie bolted to gold in the 60 meter dash during the indoor championship, setting two facility records, while taking silver in the 200. She is joined by returning all-conference veteran Amanda Deller (Aberdeen, Md./Aberdeen) who won the shotput and collected silver in the discus. Deller earned Most Outstanding Field Performer honors at the 2012 indoor championship.
New Hampshire entered the final day of competition in 2011 as the leader ultimately taking third, and will look to build off that finish. The Wildcats boast a trio of the conference’s top distance runners in junior Keely Maguire (Georgetown, Mass./Triton), senior Sydney Fitzpatrick (Billerica, Mass./Billerica Memorial) and graduate student Allison Letourneau (Kingston, Nova Scotia/Berkshire Prep). Fitzpatrick won the 10,000 meter run in 2011 while Maguire and Letourneau finished fifth in the 5,000 and 1,500 meter runs, respectively. Also back for the Wildcats is the defending silver medalist in the hammer throw, Rosemary Read (West Greenwhich, R.I./Warwick).
Vermont’s fifth-place finish last year was its highest since the 2007 championship and the Catamounts aim to build on that this year. Vermont brings back a pair of event winners including honorable mention All-American thrower sophomore Nika Ouellette (Brookline, Mass./Brookline), who finished 19th at the 2011 NCAA Championship in the javelin. Junior Julie McGilpin (Westfield, Mass./Westfield) captured the top spot in the 800 meter run last season and took the indoor crown in the same race back in February.
All five all-conference performers from 2011 are back this year for Binghamton including four silver medalists and a bronze medalist. The three-time defending champion in the indoor 400 meter dash, junior Jessica Hennig (Pine Bush, N.Y./Pine Bush) joins classmates Ashley AuPont (Endicott, N.Y./Union-Endicott/American International) and Jenna Marrione (Warwick, N.Y./Warwick Valley) and sophomore Camille Ginyard (Vestal, N.Y./Vestal) as second-place finishers a year ago. Graduate student Ashley Horton (Candor, N.Y./Candor), meanwhile, took third in the 3,000 meter steeplechase. The Bearcats will look to capture their first top-three finish since joining the America East in 2002.
Behind Corey Conner (Townsend, Mass./North Middlesex Regional) and Jillian O’Brien (Buffalo, N.Y.), Maine sets its sights on a top-three finish after placing fourth a year ago. Conner returns to the track having not competed since the 2011 indoor championships but is one of the top track athletes in the conference. She took second in the indoor mile in 2011 and also grabbed silver in the 800 and 1500 meter runs at the 2010 outdoor championship. O’Brien ran a leg in the winning 4X400 relay team in 2011 and will also be a threat in the individual sprinting events.
Stony Brook takes the eighth spot but once again will have a strong group of distance runners to win points. Senior Lucy Van Dalen (Wanganui, New Zealand/Wanganui Collegiate) is fresh off a national championship in the indoor mile and eyes more championship gold during the outdoor season. Van Dalen won the 1,500 meter run last year and led the Seawolves’ 4x800 team to victory. All four members of that quartet return for Stony Brook.
Hartford’s lone all-conference performer from 2011 returns to help exceed expectations this year. Junior Priscilla Appiagyei (South Windsor, Conn./South Windsor) took third in the 400 meter dash last year. Rookie sprinter Tiffany Harrison (Bloomfield, Conn./Bloomfield turned) in a solid indoor season for the Hawks and looks to continue that this spring.
The 2012 Outdoor Track and Field Championship will be held May 5-6 at the University of Maine in Orono.