Jan. 6, 2012
STORRS, Conn.- The University of Connecticut men’s track and field squad is set to kick-off the 2011-12 Indoor campaign on Saturday, Jan. 7, at the Greer Field House in Storrs, Conn. The triangular meet will feature the Huskies, Central Connecticut and Southern Connecticut at noon.
UConn is coming off a stellar 2010-11 year where they captured both the Indoor and Outdoor BIG EAST titles along with the New England and IC4A Indoor crowns.
Senior captains Kyle Duggan (Staten Island, N.Y.) and Mike Alleman (Scotch Plains, N.J.) along with Junior captains Ben and Jake Waruch (Kerhonkson, N.Y.) will lead a UConn team this season which has a great blend of experience and youth with 36 veterans returning and 25 freshman. Below is a preview of all events for the upcoming season, including middle distance, multi events, jumps, throws, sprints & hurdles and distance.
“It’s great to have a home meet indoors! This promises to be a great evaluation of where we are at this moment in time. Both Coaches, Eric Blake at Central and John Wallin at Southern have put together competititve programs that are at the top of their respective conferences. I have no doubt that at the end of the day, all of us will have a much better idea of how competitive our respective teams will be this year," stated Head Coach Greg Roy.
Directly following the UConn Winter Invite on Saturday, Head Coach Greg Roy and the men’s track and field program will be hosting an alumni reunion at the Alumni House on campus. The reunion will begin at approximately 2:30 p.m.
2011-12 Season Outlook
After a banner year that saw both the Indoor and Outdoor Big East championships delivered to Storrs, as well as the “Triple Crown” Indoors of the Big East, New England and IC4A Championships, the Huskies are poised to tackle the challenge of the defense of all these titles! Leadership is a critical component of any team, and there will be no lack of that in 2012 as second year captain Kyle Duggan (Staten Island, N.Y.) is joined by juniors and brothers Jake and Ben Waruch (Kerhonkson, N.Y.), and Mike Alleman (Scotch Plains, N.J.). This campaign will find the defense of the Indoor title taking place at the Armory in New York City, and the outdoor meet features a first ever trip to Tampa, Fla. for the Championships to be hosted by the Bulls of South Florida.
The Indoor schedule has been totally revamped, with a triangular meet at home on January 7 with instate rivals Central Connecticut and Southern Connecticut, as well as a return to the great facility at Penn State for the Sykes Sabock Meet. The Great Dane at the Armory and New Balance Collegiate Games at Reggie Lewis round out the scoring meets that precede the Championship season. Head Coach Greg Roy proclaims that “This schedule presents competitive opportunities against the best in the Northeast, as well as competition at some of the finest venues in the United States.”
The outdoor schedule has some new looks as well with the Huskies at home for the first time ever in March, as well as for the 3rd renewal of “The Dogfight” with SUNY Albany. The “Battle on the Bayou” in Baton Rouge, La. will present a formidable challenge as eight top-notch track and field teams from around the country will converge on LSU’s outstanding Track and Field Complex. The Huskies will compete at The Larry Ellis Invitational in Princeton, N.J. The rest of the schedule is traditional, with the NCAA first round taking place in Jacksonville, FL.
The only other change of note is within the staff as long time Associate Head Coach Ted Gibbons has retired with Rich Miller moving into his spot, while alum and three-time All American Will Thomas made the trek cross country from Cal-Berkeley to return to coach at his alma mater.
SPRINTS AND HURDLES
The deepest and most accomplished group of sprinters in the history of the program return, as evidenced by the fact that the school record setting and BIG EAST Champion 4 x 100 returns four individual scorers, three of whom were All-BIG EAST. Junior Jesse Drinks (Ossinging, N.Y.) scored 22 individual points as he was All-BIG EAST in the 60m, 100m, and 200m, only a conference Individual Championship eluding him. Sophomore Darnell Cummings (Millbrook, N.Y.) wasn’t far behind with 19 points and All-BIG EAST honors in the 60m. Senior Kevin Steinberg (Langhorne, Pa.) battled hamstring issues stemming from the 60m finals, but managed to gut out his All-Conference performance in the indoor 200m. Add Kevin Smith (Harwinton, Conn.), a 100m finalist, and the future is bright for this accomplished group.
A pair of newcomers figures to handle the chores in the high hurdles. Claudio Delli Carpini (West Harrison, N.Y.), a Clemson transfer and ACC scorer in the 110HH and freshman Selwyn Maxwell (Monroe, N.Y.) both hope to score high in their specialty at the BIG EAST. Junior Chris Whyte (Rahway, N.J.) leads a young and unproven group in the 400. Whyte missed All-BIG EAST honors in the flat 400 by .01, while he hopes to see a return to freshman form in the 400 intermediates outdoors. Tyler Hopson (Andover, Conn.) returns from double hip surgery to join sophomore Kyle Twombly (Penfield, N.Y.) and newcomer John Rettenmeier (Sherman, Conn.) as aspiring conference scorers.
Always a strength for the Huskies, 2012 should prove no different. The Waruch twins, Jake and Ben, return from a redshirt year to join junior Jess Chapman (East Thetford, Vt.) to form a trio of past All-BIG EAST performers. Chapman has posted a runner-up finish in the decathlon, while Jake Waruch has done the same in the heptathlon, while Ben has been third in both. The trio hopes to garner a pair of Championships amongst them while all three aspire to top 7,000 points in the decathlon, a reasonable goal according to Associate Head Coach Rich Miller. Veteran scorer Kyle Rowbotham (Scotch Plains, N.J.) rounds out the indoor lineup, while Sam Smith (Slingerlands, N.Y.) will return from a redshirt year for the outdoor season. Sophomore Sean Walsh (Freehold, N.J.) garnered a pair of 6th place finishes as a freshman and will redshirt the year along with frosh Zach Taylor (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.).
BIG EAST javelin champion will miss the season after an off season rotator cuff surgery, while Coach Miller looks for the duo of Eric Alfiere(Beacon Falls, Conn.) and Justin Siekierski (Wilbraham, Mass.) 5th and 8th last year to step up along with freshman Brian Eilers (Simsbury, Conn.). Junior Josh Faboyede (Providence, R.I.) was 3rd in the weight and 2nd in the hammer throw hopes to mount the top step on the podium this year as does senior Mike Alleman, 2nd and 3rd a year ago in the shot put. A big breakthrough is hoped for in the discus, where the Huskies didn’t score a point last year in the BIG EAST, but have a large group with a ton of potential. Faboyede was a non-scoring finalist and Alleman has thrown distances that indicate potential, while Siekierski looks to score in two events. The biggest hope in this event may be from sophomore Eric Masington (Trevose, Pa.) a former Pennsylvania State Champ and versatile freshman John Wlasuk (Newtown, Conn.), who was New England State Champ a year ago in the shot Put and discus. Look for freshman Chris Ackell (Brookfield, Conn.) to provide back up and potentially score as a freshman in the hammer throw.
Proven veterans dominate the vertical jumps, while newcomers with potential should be a t the fore in the Horizontals. The Duggan brothers, Kyle and sophomore Cory have both been All-BIG EAST in the pole vault, Kyle a runner-up. Noel James (Whitman, Mass.) placed third at both BIG EAST Championships for the high jump. Look for backup in the pole vault from past BIG EAST scorers seniors Matt Alexander (Tolland, Conn.) and Zach Meverden (Wexford, Pa.), along with sophomore Justin
Blades (Griswold, Conn.), while a pair of freshman, Tobey Belton and Mark Fuller (Monroe, Conn.) show potential at the conference level and beyond.
Even with no past scorers in the horizontals, the prospects are bright. Freshman Amanze Williams (New Haven, Conn.) may lead both the events and score in the BIG EAST, but not without a fight from classmate Treval Hatcher (Riverhead, N.Y.) in the triple and DelliCarpini in the long jump.
For only the second time in the last 13 years, the Huskies lack a returning All-American in the middle distance events. Coach Greg Roy is looking to the talented Bennatan twins, Tim and Alex to fill the big shoes of top middle distance runners in Storrs. Both have been BIG EAST scorers, Tim in the 800 and Alex in the 1000 and figure to blossom after getting out from under the large shadow of four-time All-American Mike Rutt. After the twins, Joe Clark, a strong anchor on last year’s distance medley bids to become an individual and Scott Johnson (Old Lyme, Conn.) hopes to return to the form that saw him finish sixth in the mile and split 1:51 for the BIG EAST Champion Huskies. Chris Dailey (Dallas, Pa.) and Paul DeSalvo (Plymouth, Minn.) were reliable relay men last year and hope to continue their transition from the 400 to the 800. A large group of freshman will also bid to contribute here.
If there is a group that is the x-factor, the distance runners are it! Scott Johnson is a three-time scorer (best of fourth in last year’s steeplechase), but is the only scorer in the group. Potential abounds with Ryan McGuire (Orange, Conn.), cross country captain Nick Aguila (West Hartford, Conn.) and freshman Bryan Fowler (Tolland, Conn.), Connecticut cross country and 3200m Champion last year. In the distance-rich BIG EAST, if the Husky distance runners are able to hold their own, they may be the key to continued program success.