Updated: May 04, 2012 3:05 pm (ET)
by America East Communications
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Albany track and field teams look to defend their outdoor championships and sweep the men’s and women’s crowns for the fourth straight year this weekend in Orono, Maine at the 2012 America East Outdoor Track and Field Championship. Action begins on May 5 with the men’s decathlon at 10 a.m. and concludes on May 6.
The Albany men, unanimously picked by the league’s coaches to win the title according to preseason voting, gun for their eighth consecutive outdoor title after winning their seventh straight on the indoor track this winter. Defending champions dot the Albany roster including Peter Rowell, who won the 400-meter hurdles a year ago, and reigning long jump champ Kadeem Howell. Keep an eye out for Alfonso Scannapieco, who cleared 17’1” in the pole vault at the indoor championship, and Alexander Bowen, a freshman who has burst onto the high jump scene this year to enter the meet seeded No. 1. The Albany depth stretches into its relay teams, especially the 4x100 as that quartet has posted the fastest time conference-wide this spring.
Boston University has the talent to unseat Albany at the top of America East and will look to its sprinters to lead the way. R.J. Page, the defending champion in the 100 and 200-meter dashes, had a tremendous spring highlighted by a fourth place finish in the 100 (10.57 seconds) at the Penn Relays last weekend. Four of the five best 200-meter dash times this spring belong to Terriers with Page again leading the way. Joel Senick and Tewado Laddy will be forces in the 400-meter dash and Laddy enters as the defending champion. Boston U. distance runner Rich Peters, the national runner-up in the indoor mile, had another great spring and will run the 1,500 in Maine.
Binghamton finished second in 2011 and is primed to make a push at the 2012 title. Behind the senior leadership of Erik van Ingen, who has the 10th fastest 1,500 time in the nation this year, the Bearcats boast serious depth in distance events. Van Ingen will run the 800 this weekend, ranked second behind teammate Jesse Garn, who will run the 1,500. Adam Quinn brings the fifth-fastest conference time in the 5,000 to Maine while Vasili Papstrat will be in the running for a title in the 10,000 on the first day of competition.
After a fourth-place finish at the indoor championship, New Hampshire aims for a similar performance at the outdoor variety. Freshman D’Mahl McFadden emerged this spring as one of the best hurdlers in the conference. The rookie took silver in the 60-meter hurdles during the indoor season and ranks second in the 110-meter race this spring. The biggest boost for UNH will come from the return of senior Brice Paey to outdoor championship competition. A regionally renowned shot putter, Paey topped the conference with an 18.36-meter heave which also ranked 35th nationally. Look for the Guarente brothers, Matthew and Jason, to score in the high jump for the Wildcats.
UMBC pushes to improve on last year’s fourth-place finish as the Retrievers boast a pair of the conference’s top throwers in Aaron Brooks and Cameron McDearmon. Brooks ranks third in the shot put and fourth in the discus while McDearmon enters as the No. 6 seed in the hammer throw. Watch out for Aboshioma Obemeata who sits at the top of the conference in the triple jump and Brandon McGee who could threaten to take the steeplechase crown in Maine.
Justin Gagne put together one the best spring seasons of any America East competitor and leads Maine as the Black Bears look to capture the crown on their home track. Gagne smashed school records in the shot put and discus this year and has the best discus throw in the conference by over five feet. The indoor weight throw champion Wilson Adams has the potential to score for the Black Bears in the shot put and hammer throw and look for David Currier to be among the top finishers in the 10,000 to close out the first day in Orono.
Picked to finish seventh this year by the league’s coaches, Stony Brook hopes to better its ninth-place finish in 2011. One of the top newcomers to the America East track scene, Eric Speakman posted one of the best 1,500 times in the conference this season and will run in that same race this weekend. Freshman Terry Martin established himself as the Seawolves’ top jumper and will compete in the long jump and 110-meter hurdles.
Vermont makes its way to Orono with a pair of the best javelin throwers in the conference. Sam Hoadley posted the best throw in America East this spring by over four meters (63.70m) while teammate and classmate Mike Gruber owns the third-best toss (58.80m). The Catamounts also bring with them the defending decathlon champion, Chris Lemieux. The senior won the event with 6,737 points in 2011.
In 2011, Hartford recorded its highest outdoor championship point total in school history en route to the program’s best finish (eighth). Anderson Emerole, who captured the bronze in the indoor 400 back in February, will challenge for titles in the 200 and 400-meter dashes.
Only one point separated Boston University and Albany in the coaches’ preseason poll but it was Boston U. that had the edge as the preseason favorite. Fresh off their indoor title, the Terriers know what it takes to unseat the three-time defending champion Great 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 won the 100 and 200-meter dashes and ran a leg on the gold-medal winning 4x100 relay team. In the field, Allison Barwise brings one of the most versatile skill sets to Orono. After an All-American indoor season in the high jump, Barwise is the top seed in the heptathlon and the high jump and the second seed in the long jump. She will be a difference-maker for the championship-minded Terriers.
Albany, though, has plenty of talent and experience to grab its fourth straight and seventh title overall. The Danes are the pre-championship favorite in six events and bring back defending champions in two of them. Allison Rogers took gold in the 400 in 2011 while Catherine Coxon did the same in the discus Patricia McNish enters as the top seed in both the long jump and triple jump. Since joining America East in 2002, Albany has finished third or higher in the teams standings in all but one season, including six championships.
Freshman sprinting sensation Mercedes Jackson leads UMBC into Orono looking to exceed expectations just as it did at the indoor championship back in February. Jackson picked up the outdoor season right where she left the indoor one setting two more school records in the 100 and 2000 meter dashes, She enters the championship as the top seed in the 100 after running a school-record 11.66 in late April. Fellow sprinter Imani Colbert posted the best time in the 100-meter hurdles and all-conference veteran Amanda Deller did the same in the same in the shot put providing UMBC with depth to compete at the top of the standings.
New Hampshire once again will be strong in the distance races as Sydney Fitzpatrick, who for some time this spring had the fastest 10,000 time in the nation, leads the distance core. Fitzptarick, the defending outdoor 10,000 champion, is joined by Allison Letourneau and Keely Maguire who both had record setting seasons. During the indoor and outdoor seasons combined, Letourneau broke five school records and Maguire enters the championship fresh off breaking the school record in the 3,000 at the Penn Relays. The throwing tandem of Laura Stern and the reigning Field Performer of the Week Rosemary Read will be a force in the pits. Stern posted the second-best javelin throw and Read owns the second-best hammer throw.
In 2011, Vermont ran to its best finish (5th) at the conference championship since 2007. Nika Ouelette, the defending champion in the javelin, became the Catamount’s first-ever All-American last season when she finished 19th at the national meet. Vermont’s 4x800 relay team posted the fastest time in the conference this season as did senior Kirsten Weberg in the 3,000 steeplechase. Weberg’s time of 10:37.17 topped the conference by more than 10 seconds.
Binghamton will look to Jessica Hennig to boost it to its first top-three finish since joining the conference and exceed the coaches’ sixth-place prediction. Hennig is the three-time defending indoor champion in the 400-meter dash and is the only Binghamton track athlete to ever win three straight America East Conference individual titles. She ranks second in the 400 heading into this weekend. The Bearcats also have two of the top pole vaulters in the conference in Jenna Marrione and Camille Ginyard.
Host Maine sets its sights on a top finish at home after placing fourth a year ago. Returning to the championship scene is one the America East’s top track runners, Corey Conner. The junior did not compete at last season’s meet but has not missed a beat since coming back. Last weekend, she won the women’s 5,000 at the Penn Relays and is the favorite to win conference gold this weekend. Joining Conner is Jillian O’Brien. Ranking among the top sprinters in the league, O’Brien looks to podium in the 100 and 200-meter dashes.
Lucy Van Dalen, the indoor mile national champion, ranks third in the nation in the 5,000 and will lead Stony Brook into Maine. The senior from New Zealand will compete in the 800 and 1,500-meter runs and is seeded No. 1 in both of those events. Right behind her is Olivia Burne, who posted the second-fastest 1,500 time this season as the distance core for the Seawolves will once again be strong.
Hartford’s Tiffany Harrison, who turned in a solid indoor season, paces the Hawks as they try to climb the America East standings ladder this weekend. Harrison is seeded fourth in the 400 as a freshman.