The track and field teams have showed some success early this season and despite their budget difficulties, they are ready to show the Big East that they can leave the conference at the end of the year on a high note.
In the second meet of the season on Feb. 1, distance runner Matt Mulvaney topped the 5,000-meter race at the Gator Invitational in Gainesville in a time of 15:02.34. In the 55-meter event, sophomore Terrell Walden finished third (6.32 seconds), freshman Devin Hester got seventh (6.36 seconds), and junior Tanard Davis held onto eighth with a time of 6.37 seconds.
The men visited Clemson University in South Carolina last weekend for the Tiger Invitational. They qualified seven team members, including three sprinters and one pole-vaulter for the Big East Championships, which takes place at Syracuse University in New York this weekend, where both the men and women will be participating.
In the 60-meter event, Walden took third place with a time of 6.77 seconds, while Davis placed 15th with 6.95 seconds and Hester, also a member of the football team, finished in 7.02 seconds (24th place). Pole-vaulter Jon Mark reached 4.70 meters, placing second.
“We’re a little bit better outdoors than indoors because of where we are geographically,” men’s Head Coach Mike Ward said. “The Big East schools in the northeast are used to running inside whereas we’re more of an outdoor, warm weather team.”
The women’s team graced the campus of the University of Arkansas last weekend in Fayetteville for the Tyson Invitational. All-American Lauryn Williams automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships on March 12 and 13 in Fayetteville.
Williams broke the school record-her record-in the 200-meter with a time of 23.24 seconds. The time was the third fastest in the nation. She also placed fourth in the 60 meter at 7.23 seconds and finished as a part of a 4×400 relay in 3:34.45. The 4×400 meter relay team of freshman Ginou Etienne, sophomore All-Americans Charlette Greggs and Dominique Darden, and senior All-American Kitoya Carter finished in third place behind Texas and Florida. The relay team is the top seed heading into the Big East Championships this weekend. In the 200-meter, Greggs finished fifth in 23.56 seconds while Darden held onto 13th place with 23.94 seconds. In the long jump, junior Amber Williams grabbed fifth with a jump of 5.81 meters. Junior Chinela Davis earned eighth with a jump of 5.66 meters.
The NCAA Championships at the University of Arkansas are on the horizon in mid March after the Big East Championships take place this Saturday and Sunday at Syracuse University.
“[This weekend] we have an opportunity to win the 60-meter and the long jump,” Ward said.
However, the lack of scholarships for track and field appears to have played a large part in the team’s results. Fully funded programs have over six times as many athletes on scholarship than UM.
“A school like Clemson has 13 guys on scholarship and we have two,” Ward said. “We are talking about [more funding for track] but I don’t really anticipate anything happening.”
Melissa Teich can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.