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STORRS, Conn. – The University of Connecticut women’s track and field team heads south in preparation for the 2018 American Athletic Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships held at the Birmingham CrossPlex in Birmingham, Al. The conference championship will run from Feb 23-24 and will be broadcast live on The American Digital Network.
Winning the Indoor Conference Championships in 2015 and 2016, Connecticut is looking to raise the trophy once again. Head Coach JJ Clark and the coaching staff believe that if the team performs at their highest potential they can dethrone 2017 reigning champions UCF and bring the title back to Storrs.
“We (the coaching staff) want to see the team maximize their potential and their talent this weekend,” said Clark. “We want to maximize the number of points we can get. To do that, we need to see a collective effort, mental toughness, togetherness, focus and in the end, just getting it done.”
Clark believes that depth and all-around performance will be the difference maker this weekend.
“We have to score in many different areas. The field events, sprints and distance have to performance well and score this weekend, it can’t just be one area. We are looking for a combined effort from our team to bring home the best possible score and hopefully that’s enough to bring home another trophy.”
The Huskies are favored to finish in the top-5 in a handful of events ranging from sprints to throws. UConn returns 2017 Indoor American Conference Shot Put Champion Divine Oladipo to the circle for a chance to claim the title once again.
“It’s exciting to head into the tournament and try to reclaim my shot put title this year,” explained Oladipo. “A lot of us on the team are looking to qualify for nationals and I think this weekend will be a good meet for the team and many individuals.”
Oladipo will be challenged by Cincinnati’s top thrower, Annettee Echikunwoke, who holds the No. 1 shot put distance in the conference this season at 16.72m. Oladipo is just behind Echikunwoke on The American performance list with a toss of 16.64m she posted in early February.
“I feel we need to execute not only as individuals but also as a team,” said Oladipo. “If we go into the championships looking to win then that will give us the confidence to do so. We have to put it together a team and hopefully we can come out with a victory.”
Freshman Mia Nahom is expected to be competitive in the one mile run. Nahom clocked in a season best time of 4:46.15 on Feb. 3 for second on The American performance list, trailing only SMU’s Hannah Miller (4:45.15).
New comer and junior Susan Aneno currently ranks 13th in the nation in the 800m run. Aneno holds the league’s top time this season in the event (2:04.65) and will look to edge out two-time league champion Rosie Chamberlain from UCF.
UConn is in a league of their own when it comes to the distance medley relay. The Huskies hold nearly a 20-second lead against other conference programs in the race after competing at the David Hemery Valentine Invitational on Feb. 9. The team of Aneno, Kat Surin, Katie Foley and Nahom clocked a time of 11:21.45 in the meet, earning the No. 14 time in the nation in the process.
Sticking to the relays, the Huskies enter the 4x400 field with the second fastest time in the conference this season (3:40.31) behind a strong performances from Kristina Cherrington, Surin, Foley and Aneno.
Friday's events will kick off with the heptathlon on Friday morning followed by trials on the track starting at 12:15 pm with the mile. The 5,000 meters and distance medley relay will be contested on Friday. In the field, pole vault starts things off at noon and is followed by long jump, weight throw, high jump and long jump on day one.
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