The UConn men’s track and field team traveled to Birmingham, Alabama, this past weekend to take on seven other schools in the American Athletic Conference Championship. The Huskies finished in sixth with 76 points while the favorite to win, Houston, walked away with the gold for the fifth consecutive year after racking up 159.5 points.
The final scoring, however, does not tell the whole story of what turned out to be a weekend full of positive takeaways for the team. Head Coach Greg Roy said he was disappointed in the result but saw the positives from the weekend.
“The big takeaway was we had some individuals who competed very well,” Roy said. “Tyler and Malik both really competed great and we had a lot of other kids that competed really well that didn't necessarily come out on top. We didn't have a terrible meet, we just didn't have enough firepower. We did make a lot of progress in a lot of areas, but we didn’t get the result.”
UConn’s first points of the meet came from the distance medley team comprised of all sophomores. Joshua Bedard, Omar Gebril, Brian Camillieri and Ian Mickool crossed the line just behind first, earning the silver medal and eight points for the Huskies with a time of 10:04:56. They finished just .33 seconds behind first place Memphis.
In the 400-meter dash, freshman Wellington Ventura continued the success of his young collegiate career, finishing in fourth with a personal best time of 47.22 seconds. UConn was able to pick it up from there, adding some more top finishes to its name.
In the 800-meter, sophomore Tyler Gleen had a career race. He ran it in 1:49:39, setting a new personal best while also earning his first ever AAC title. This was a vast improvement over his fifth-place finish last year, as there was no doubt that he would win after creating a huge gap in the field in the final 50 meters to seal the victory.
Roy was very impressed with how Gleen has handled himself over the past several meets and how he has grown as a runner thus far.
“He’s learned how to race under control, with patience and with confidence,” Roy said. “The Tyler from a year ago would have tried to put it down earlier and might have paid the price on the last straightaway. But he waited until the last 130 meters to make his move and it worked.”
The medals did not stop there for the Huskies. Senior Kyle Barber was once again a strong competitor in the mile run, finishing second in the race with a time of 4:17:71. The medal was his fourth, adding to what has been a very successful college career for the distance runner.
In the field events it was more of the same for senior phenomenon Malik Snead. Snead defended his title in the triple jump, finishing just shy of his season-best with a leap of 15.75 meters to stay on top. Fellow senior Ian Bergere was also able to grab a medal in the meet, finishing third in the pole vault by maxing out at 5.03 meters.
The meet wrapped up with the heptathlon, where sophomore Ben Grosse put up a career-best 4,989, including a first-place finish in the high jump, clearing a career-best 2.04 meters, and a second-place finish in the 1000 meters. Despite the personal-best numbers, it was only good enough for a fifth-place finish in the meet that including a record-breaking 5,705 points from the first-place finisher from Wichita State.
Next up for the Huskies is a trip to Boston University where they will compete in the three-day IC4A Indoor Championships from March 1-3.
Conner Gilson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.