The UConn men’s and women’s track and field teams continued their impressive start to the indoor season at the Battle of Beantown this weekend. Earning multiple event wins, the Huskies managed to register 10 personal record (PR) performances, two of which were school records. In the men’s competition, captain Eric Van Der Els finished second in the mile clocking 4:00.93 for a new school record, erasing Dan Wilson’s 20-year old record. Junior Wellington Ventura produced a convincing win in the men’s 600 meters, stopping the clock at 1:17.29, beating the old record of 1:17.36 set in 2014 by Robert Rhodes.
“The game plan was simple, get out hard and don’t let off the gas coming off the first lap with two to go, so I did my best to do just that,” Ventura said. “With about 100m to go I really focused on staying relaxed and picking my knees up rather than trying too hard to run,” he added.
Meanwhile Van Der Els, in his season-opener, finally pulled off a feat he had his sights set on since being at UConn.
“Breaking this mile record is something I always wanted to do since I’ve been at UConn, and making that happen was a very proud moment for myself, especially in my season-opener,” said Van Der Els. “This kind of performance builds confidence throughout the season and helps me become the competitor I want to be,” he explained.
Classmates Noah Woodman and Markus Bagley finished second and fourth in the men’s 600 meters behind Ventura, clocking 1:19.40 and 1:19.60 respectively, both registering new personal best (PB) times. UConn also picked up a win in the men’s 60 meter hurdles, thanks to freshman Terrel Williams who sprinted to 7.81 seconds, setting a new PB. Senior James Maniscalco was also among the new PR performances, taking the men’s 3000 meters in 8:21.08, lowering his previous best by more than two seconds. UConn’s duo of Stephen Sutton and Marzio Mastroianni were first and third in the men’s 800 meters, clocking 1:52.80 and 1:53.56, respectively.
The women’s competition saw UConn going 1-2 in the weight throw, won by captain Mikyla Rogers earning her second consecutive win, registering a 18.81 meter mark, on her penultimate attempt. Freshman Natalia Surdej threw a season-best 18.13 meters. Coming off of two consecutive wins at her previous competitions, senior and team captain Emma Chee finished third in the women’s pole vault, clearing 4.05 meters. The women’s triple jump saw UConn’s Zayin Roe finishing fourth, setting a new PR at 11.75 meters.
On the track, senior Mia Nahom finished second in the mile, stopping the clock at 4:41.58, with Junior Randi Burr registering a new PB of 4:51.07 for fifth. The women’s 60 meter dash wielded another PR performance for UConn, as freshman Brianna Davis clocked 7.68 seconds for fifth.
As UConn enters mid-season, captain Eric Van Der Els looks to lead by example in aiding the Huskies to keep the momentum. “One of the traits I take pride in as a team captain is not only leading vocally, but leading [by example] others around me to be the best,” he expressed.
Meanwhile Wellington, who now holds two indoor school records, also aims to inspire his teammates in order to maintain this level of consistency. “I plan on adding to my team’s momentum by just showing them I’m here, and giving them all I have on the track, while also cheering them on and ensuring they have the confidence they rightfully deserve in themselves,” he hopes.
UConn will send teams to both the Great Dane Classic in Albany, NY, as well as the John Thomas Terrier Classic in Boston.