Men’s Track and Field: Huskies gearing up for AAC Championships

The University of Connecticut held a two day men's track heptatholon Thursday Dec. 7. UConn Junior Malik Snead was at the top of the standings after the first day. (Photo by Nicholas Hampton/The Daily Campus)

Following a successful tune-up performance at URI last weekend, the Huskies will head to the Birmingham CrossPlex in Birmingham, Alabama to compete in the American Athletic Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships this upcoming Friday and Saturday.

“The big picture is that this conference has just gotten stronger since we joined it and over the next couple of years you’re gonna see the competition grow even more,” said head coach Greg Roy. “There were three national champions in this conference, which is remarkable. We’re real excited about our chances, Houston is a load to take down. You’ve got four other teams besides Houston that are making strides at the top level. It's gonna be a real battle the next few days.”

The University of Houston has won four consecutive conference titles, however, the Huskies have placed top five in each of the five previous conference championships.

Sophomore Benjamin Grosse will compete in the Heptathlon, where he is the conference’s current leader in the event with 4,952 points. Seniors Kyle Barber and Michael McGonnigle will compete in the mile run, both runners are ranked in the top 10 heading into the race.

Freshmen Xavier Smith and Tomi Alao will compete in the 60m Hurdles, both runners have recorded top 10 performances this season. Wellington Ventura (Fr.) and Noah Woodman (Fr.) will lead the Huskies in the 400m dash. Ventura’s best time of 47.37 seconds is currently ranked sixth in the conference and is the best performance by a freshman this season.

Tyler Gleen will compete in the 800m run, his best time of 1:50.49 from the Columbia Challenge has earned him the number two seed in the conference. Coach Roy has stated that he believes Gleen is ready to make a breakthrough as a sophomore.

Kyle Barber (Sr.) will compete in the mile run. His best time of 4:06.48, recorded at Boston University earlier this month, has him locked in the fourth seed. Michael McGonnigle (Sr.) is the top seed in the 3000m run. Roy said that McGonnigle will have his hands full with a few Tulsa runners, but he is very capable and in great shape heading into the race.

In the field events, Dan Claxton (Soph.) comes into Birmingham as the second seed in the high jump with a best jump of 2.16 meters (7ft 1in). Malik Snead is seeking to repeat in the triple jump and is the top seed in the event with a best of 15.78m (51ft 9.25in).

Ian Bergere (Sr.) will compete in the pole vault in a tie for the third seed at 5.05m (16ft 6.75in). Roy said that Bergere has been developing by the day and is ready to put in a big effort this weekend.


Neil Simmons is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at neil.simmons@uconn.edu .