Feb. 17, 2012
STORRS, Conn.-The University of Connecticut men's track and field team will head to the New Balance Track and Field Center at the Armory in New York, N.Y. to compete in the BIG EAST Indoor Championship. The meet will be held February 18th – 19th and is set to begin at 8:00 am. The Huskies look to defend their indoor title against the other BIG EAST teams, including the Notre Dame Fighting Irish who are the favorites to win this year.
A confident Coach Roy commented on the upcoming events this weekend stating, “This program has a lot of pride and a lot of people that know how to win”. When asked about Notre Dame and UConn’s chances, Coach quickly replied, “If anyone can beat them, it’s us. We have great athletes and a good team.”
This year the Huskies enter the BIG EAST Championships ranked second in the Northeast Region, according to the USTFCCCA Regional index. This high ranking, combined with the team having 19 team members ranked in the top 8 of their respected events, gives UConn a special opportunity to have an impressive showing this weekend.
Coming off a commendable effort last week at the Ryder-Lafayette Invitational, UConn heads to the Armory for the third time this season and with such a well-rounded team looks to continue the success they have had in New York.
The Huskies will need strong performances across the board in order to potentially earn their fourth title in the last five years. In the sprinting events, they will look to team members such as sophomore Darnell Cummings, who is ranked third in the BIG EAST in the 60m currently with a time of 6.82 seconds and also ranked fifth in the 200m with a time of 21.81 seconds. Junior Jesse Drinks is ranked 12th this year in the BIG EAST and finished second in the 60m dash last year with a time of 6.85 seconds. Leadership will also be needed from the likes of senior Kevin Steinberg, who placed third last year with a time of 21.88 in the 200m and is currently ranked 14th with a time of 22.10 seconds.
For distance, UConn will rely on junior brothers Tim and Alex Bennatan, who are ranked 9th and 10th, respectively in the 800m. Tim Bennatan is also currently ranked first in the 1000m with a time of 2:23.23. Fellow teammate’s such as Joe Clark and freshman Selwyn Maxwell will also look to help contribute to the teams overall success. Clark is ranked third in the 1,000m and seventh overall in the mile, with a time of 4:03.25, while Maxwell is ranked 6th in the 60m hurdles with a time of 8.04 seconds.
Confidence is not limited to the coaching staff, but is displayed by the team itself, especially the Husky captains, as they weigh in on their chances this weekend. “We definitely have a good chance of winning. Going into the meet we’re not looking at the seed times, we are looking for championship performances”, stated senior captain Kyle Duggan. Captain Ben Waruch added to the statement by saying, “We have had the target on our back since we won last year, with the progressions we made from week to week, I think we have reacted well to that target”.
Along with the running events, the Huskies will need a dominant performance from the field events in order to retain the title as champions. Junior Noel James will look to set the tone for the field as he placed third in the BIG EAST last year and is ranked number one overall in the high jump with a height of 7’3”. UConn will also need leadership from their captain Kyle Duggan who is ranked third in pole vault with a height of 17’. Sophomore Cory Duggan is not far behind ranking fifth in the BIG EAST in pole vault, followed by Matt Alexander who is ranked eighth with a height of 15’ 9”. In the long jump freshman Amanze Williams looks to continue his outstanding season as he is ranked first overall in the BIG EAST with a jump of 24’ 11.75”, which he recorded earlier this year.
In the throwing events, senior Mike Alleman is ranked third in the shot put with a throw of 57’6.5”. Alleman looks to improve upon his runner-up finish at last year’s championship and take home first place honors. Also looking to improve upon last year’s performance is junior Joshua Faboyede who is ranked third in the weight throw and finished in third place last year with a throw of 60’ 8.74”.
Finally, UConn looks to dominate the rest of the field in the heptathlon as Jake Waruch, Jesse Chapman and Ben Waruch are ranked first, second and third, respectively. Chapman looks to lead the way as he placed fourth in last year’s competition with 5,088 points, also notching a victory in the shot-put.
With high hopes, Coach Roy along with the team’s captains, expect to not only compete this weekend but to win another title. Captain Mike Alleman stated, “This team has put a lot of hard work during all the hours of preseason practices and the workouts in the weight room. So, this weekend is basically an accumulation of all that work and hopefully we can come out with a BIG EAST championship”. “This meet defines our season”, added fellow captain Jake Waruch. With such high expectations for the Huskies this weekend, spectators are sure to be in for a weekend filled with exciting competition as the team competes at the BIG EAST Championships.