April 30, 2014
Live Coverage on the American Digital Network:
STORRS, Conn. – UConn men’s track and field will set its sights on capturing the inaugural American Athletic Conference Outdoor Championship this weekend in Tampa, Florida. Competition begins at the USF Track & Field Stadium on Friday afternoon with the hammer throw at 12:00 p.m. ET on May 2. On Saturday events resume at 12:30 p.m. ET with the javelin throw. Field events start off the final day of competition on Sunday with the pole vault at 10:00 a.m. ET on May 4. The Championship will conclude with the 4x400m relay at 2:15 p.m., followed by an awards ceremony.
All events will be streamed live over the American Digital Network, with watch links provided above. Additional information can be found by visiting The American Championship Central, also posted above, or on social media by following the twitter handle @American_Champs and using the hashtag #AmericanOTF. Live results will be tweeted and posted to the webpage linked above.
UConn enters the inaugural outdoor championship after capturing the first-ever American Athletic Conference Indoor Championship in early March after edging Louisville for the title. The win marked Connecticut’s 14th conference crown after winning 13 championships in the former Big East. The Huskies swept both the indoor and outdoor league championships three times (2002, 2011, 2013) and will eye a fourth dual championship this weekend for third time in four years.
Several Huskies enter the weekend with some of the top performances in the conference. Freshman distance runner Mike O’Donnell (Methuen, Mass.) has been superb for UConn in his rookie campaign and owns the fastest 1500m time in the conference this season at 3:51.08. O’Donnell enjoyed success in his first-ever collegiate conference championship when he took home a gold medal in the Mile Run at The American indoor championship on March 1. Connecticut will again look for him to perform this weekend.
Sophomore mid-distance competitor Robert Rhodes (Brooklyn, N.Y.) enters the weekend with the third-fastest 800 meter time in the conference at 1:51.06. Rhodes, who entered the indoor championship as the second-fastest 800m runner in the conference behind teammate and NCAA qualifier Alvaro Chavez (West Windsor, N.J.) will look to improve on his fourth place finish in the winter championship.
Connecticut boasts some of the top results in field events this season and will look to Tobey Belton (Westminster, Mass.), Craig Hunter (Robbinsville, N.J.) and Eric Masington (Trevose, Pa.) to contribute points. Belton cleared the second-best numbers in the high jump this season when he successfully posted a height of 2.06m (6 foot 9-inches) at Georgia’s Specs Town Invitational. Hunter recorded the fourth-highest height in the pole vault after launching himself over the 5.20m mark (17-0.75) at the New England Challenge Meet hosted by the Huskies. The rookie has been a consistently high performer for UConn, taking home the bronze medal at the indoor championships.
Senior captain Eric Masington will lead the UConn effort in the shot put and discus. Masington sports the fourth-best shot distance in the league with a 17.25m (56-7.25) toss. He also owns the second-best effort in the discus (57.94m) behind Cincinnati’s Macklin Tudor. The senior performed exceptionally well at last year’s Big East Outdoor Championship in both the shot put and discus, taking second and third places, respectively.
UConn will also look to take advantage in the decathlon, with all four Huskies ranking among the best of the seven total conference competitors.
“We enter the meet healthy and fit, and a decided underdog!” said head coach Greg Roy in anticipation of the weekend. “Houston has had a great spring, as has Louisville. We’ve been in this position many times before, and the outcome is decided not on those performance lists, but on how strongly the kids believe in themselves and each other. It is going to be a test of our will more than our skill. I can’t wait to see how strong willed we are.”