June 12, 2013
STORRS, Conn.- The University of Connecticut women’s track and field team concluded its 2013 outdoor season this weekend at Hayward Field in Oregon, ending the season on a high note with four Huskies capturing five All-America Titles. The 2013 campaign was filled with individual accomplishment and saw the Huskies post fantastic results in the postseason, including a first-place team finish at the ECAC Championship.
“With five athletes competing in Eugene it gave us a team feeling for sure,” head coach Bill Morgan commented. “It’s natural to reflect on the season and the substantial work this group of and student-athletes and staff presented.”
The season kicked off in late March at the Raleigh Relays, which saw Connecticut begin in the season in dominating fashion, earning numerous top-five finishes. Victoria Flowers captured first place in the shot put and third in the weight throw, giving UConn fans a preview of what was to come in the following months.
For Flowers, her career at Connecticut will forever be etched in the history books as she finished with seven All-American honors, which is the most in program history. Flowers took 16th place in both the shot put and hammer throw at the NCAA Championships, which qualified her for her final national All-American crowns. On June 3, U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association named Flowers the 2013 Outdoor Northeast Region Field Athlete of the Year. She also earned BIG EAST Field Athlete of the Week honors six times for her performances throughout her senior campaign. Flowers was a dominant force and one that the Huskies counted on to deliver in the postseason.
In the BIG EAST Championships in early May, the Huskies took second place with 102.75 points, falling just short of Notre Dame who took the final conference title. Flowers led the team with two first place finishes, taking the crown in the hammer throw and shot put. Senior All-American Ilva Bikanova earned the gold medal in the high jump with a leap of 1.85m. For Bikanova, the conference crown was her second overall, and first in outdoor action. Other notable performances came from Brittany Power and Odrine Belot who captured fifth and seventh in the triple jump, respectively.
Connecticut used a week off to rest up before traveling to Princeton, N.J. to compete in the 2013 Outdoor ECAC Championship. At the meet, Connecticut was firing on all cylinders, finishing in first place and claiming the ninth crown during the tenure of Morgan. The victory marked the fourth time in six years that the Huskies have taken the ECAC title. A key to the Huskies success was the balance between the track and field events, as Connecticut earned 35 points on the field and 31 on the track. UConn earned three first place finishes, with two coming from Flowers in the shot put and hammer, and the third coming from All-American Natasha McLaren who claimed first in the high-jump with a leap of 1.79m.
At the NCAA Regionals in late May, the team saw five athletes qualify for the NCAA Championships by posting impressive results. Flowers punched her ticket in the shot put and hammer on the final day of qualifying while freshman Julia Zrinyi earned a trip to Oregon for her performance in the 1500m. Her time of 4:16.49 set a new UConn outdoor record and gave the freshman a chance to compete on the national stage. Earlier in the weekend, Bikanova, Brigitte Mania and Allison Lasnicki also earned a trip to Oregon. Lasnicki shattered the school record in the 10,000 meter run when she finished sixth in 33:36.11.
The NCAA Championships marked the end of the season as the Huskies returned to Storrs with five All-America titles. On the first day of action, Lasnicki finished ninth in the 10,000 meter run and Mania grabbed 12th place to earn Second Team All-American honors. Bikanova earned Second Team All-America honors with her 14th place leap in the high jump, which is her third career All-American accolade and Flowers earned her sixth and seventh national honors.
“There were many achievements for outdoor the season,” Morgan concluded. “The feeling that we can be even better will set the challenges for next year but for now it was quite an incredible season.”