The starting gun was fired for Miami’s track and field season this past weekend as the two-day Hurricane Invitational brought teams from across the country to Coral Gables, and provided a launching pad for the Hurricanes squad to begin preparing for the rest of the season.
Among the winners for the Canes were senior Rachel Dupree in the women’s heptathlon, who finished with 4,294 total points and a personal best in the 800-meter; sophomore Connor Adams, who set a school record of 3:52.50 in his first-place finish in the 1500-meter; and the men’s 4×400 meter relay team – anchored by freshman Christian Cook – which crossed the line first by just .03 seconds.
“It was a great opener for us,” said Amy Deem, director and coach of Miami track and field. “We needed to get outside and see where we are. We won quite a few events which I’m happy about. I think that we know what we need to work on as we get into the heart of our schedule in April. We really wanted to get some training in here before April and May come around.”
Deem noted that while the wins felt good, many of her athletes competed outside their best events in an effort to focus on strengthening themselves for the big meets in April, most notably the ACC Championships held at Duke in late April.
Adams enjoyed a memorable debut at Cobb Stadium.
“I was just looking forward to competing in front of a home crowd,” he said. “It’s not that I train any differently for a home meet, this is just a stepping stone to get to some of the bigger levels.”
The meet’s last running event was its most dramatic. Running against other squads that included some athletes with Olympic experience, Miami’s “A” team, which comprised Brian Laskowski, Darrell Butler, Bassim El-Sabawi and Cook, had just enough in them to beat out the more experienced runners.
“When my last teammate [Laskowski] gave me the stick, I knew the race was close, and I knew that I was able to get him, so I just kept the pace that I had,” Cook said. “Once I got side-by-side with him I just got more energy to go past him. The adrenaline gives you such more momentum; it helps you go. It’s like the fourth quarter in basketball – you want the last shot and you want that final push.”
The Hurricanes’ next full team meet won’t be until the end of the month in Tucson, Ariz.where they are set to compete in the Jim Click Shootout at the University of Arizona. The track season is not one marked by home-and-aways, but more a hodgepodge of meets at various venues until the conference and – potentially – national meets begin. But home is where they begin, and for most athletes, no better place to start.
“From not being able to run this meet this year to setting a school record is pretty great,” Adams said. “I’m truly excited for the rest of the season and whatever else comes.”
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