Track and Field Preview: UConn Hosts the Northeast Challenge

The University of Connecticut held a two day men's track heptatholon Thursday Dec. 7. Several events, like the high jump, 60 meter hurtles, and several others being held on Friday Dec. 8. (Photo by Jon Sammis/The Daily Campus)

It’s rare that UConn’s track and field team doesn’t have to travel across the country to compete in a competition--actually only once a year--but this weekend, UConn will finally be on home turf to defend last year’s win against other teams in the Northeast.

This is the one time of the year that UConn gets to host an event, and it is very important for the team that they represent the program well against the many familiar faces they’ll be seeing. Head coach Greg Roy said the team is more than ready to show out this weekend.

“It’s sort of one of those unwritten laws to defend home ground,” Roy said. “When you're at home, there's just something different about it and the kids are more than ready.”

Over the past three weeks, the team has been traveling down south to compete in non-scoring relays against teams from all around the country. The trips have been extremely taxing on the team but Roy said they have been great for competition, but now they will be facing familiar opponents from their region.

Leadership from the top athletes that have done this and competed in this event in years past will be key. Players like seniors Kyle Barber and Patrick Begley have led by example all year and the coach has full confidence that they’ve shown to the younger teammates how important it is to perform well as the host.

“No question they’ve said something to them, no question about that,” Roy said.

The relays of the past week have given the coaching staff a good idea of who they want running in the meet, but Roy said they’re still going to be mixing some things up in their championship lineup. Barber and senior Michael McGonnigle, the two steeplechasers, will be moving down to the 1500 meter run because they didn’t have any underclassmen there, and sophomore Eric Van Der Els will be moving from the mile run to the 800.

Senior Aidan Fiol is listed as questionable at the meet because he is still in a walking boot and most likely won't be ready by Saturday.

One concern that may come up is the drastic difference in climate that the men will be competing in on Saturday as they have been accustomed to competing in the southern sun for the past weeks. Roy said he expects wind chill during the competition.

“We’re not even going to pull out the pole vault [until] Saturday because trying to pole vault in 10-15 mile per hour winds is just dangerous,” Roy said.

The team will have crew working all day to make ensure UConn hosts the event up to NCAA standards.

The meet is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. on Saturday.


Daniel Dashefsky is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached at daniel.dashefsky@uconn.edu.