Track and Field: UConn wins consecutive Big East indoor championships 


The UConn track and field squad made their way to Chicago this weekend to compete at the Big East indoor championships. Dominant performances from both the men’s and women’s teams resulted in the Huskies taking home first place in the overall standings, defending their titles as Big East champions. The men finished with 199.5 points, which more than doubled the second place score. The women were also emphatic in victory, beating second-place DePaul by 58 points.  

Friday saw a multitude of preliminary rounds, where numerous UConn athletes made it to their respective finals. There were, however, some field events that had their finals on the opening day. The first event to kick off was the pole vault, and the Huskies stamped their authority over the meet from the word ‘go’. Travis Snyder and Kalli Knott were each ranked first in the conference coming into the meet, and they both delivered gold medals. Patrick Oatman also came away from the pole vault with a medal, securing third place with a clearance of 4.30 meters.  

The most successful event of the entire meet was on Friday, with the long jump squad sweeping both the men’s and women’s competitions. In the women’s long jump, A’liyah Thomas capped off a fantastic indoor season with a 6.28 meter victory, with Taylor Woods and Jasmine Barrow going home with silver and bronze medals. Marc Morrison took home gold on the men’s side with a 7.45m effort, with Richmond Kwaateng and Kasey Savage not far behind after 7.20m and 7.09m jumps, respectively. Savage also secured a gold medal in the high jump, sharing the top spot with Harry Baker of Marquette after the pair could not be separated on countback.  

The throwers were also in action on the first day, with Travis Roux taking home a gold medal in the weight throw. Roux’s 19.23 meter effort was a personal best and the best anyone at UConn has thrown this year. Natalia Surdej was also on the podium on the women’s side, throwing an 18.34 meter personal best. 

Although the successes on Friday set the tone, the team went into Saturday with more than half of the job still to do. The medals began to come in quick early on, as Terrell Williams and Jailya Ash won the 60-meter hurdles. Although these two Huskies stole the show by topping the podium, there were five other UConn athletes that finished in the top eight and therefore scored points for the overall team standings.  

There was a similar story in the flat 60-meter, with Joseph O’Brien taking home a bronze medal and Kwaateng and Damon Simpson finishing in scoring positions. O’Brien went one better in the 200. He finished with a 21.34 second clocking, with Simpson finishing just behind in an agonizing fourth place finish.  

To cap off the sprints, UConn stalwart Wellington Ventura delivered a decisive win in the 400. His 46.98 second clocking was his best of the season so far, bringing him closer to the times he was running last year.  

A standout middle-distance performer was Mahamed Sharif, who finished in second place in the 800, with a 1:48.83 clocking. This is his personal best, showing that he is ready to springboard into a fantastic outdoor season.  

“[My goal is to] to win the conference and qualify for nationals,” noted Sharif. “To do that I have to be able to compete with the 1:46 and 1:47 guys.”  

If his improvement so far this season is anything to go by, it seems as though he will be ready to run these times sooner than later.  

The jumpers and throwers also carried their momentum into Saturday, with Matthew Brady and Jack Foster finishing second and third, respectively in the shot put. The Huskies had four athletes in the top five for this event, securing a huge number of points for the team. Patricia Mroczkowski matched her personal record in the high jump, taking home the gold medal with a clearance of 1.76 meters.  

The triple-jumping squad brought even more hardware for the jumps section. Jasmine Barrow jumped an impressive 12.61 meters to take home a gold medal in the women’s event, with Felicia Quainoo finishing just out of a podium position. Savage added a third medal to his individual tally with a silver medal, and newly transferred Joron Harrell finished in third place.   

The Huskies were also successful in the multi-event competitions happening throughout the weekend. Emily Lavarnway won the pentathlon, finishing with 4,036 points. She finished 200 points ahead of her nearest competitor. Katelyn Reid also secured a podium finish in this event, with a final score of 3,576 points. Nicholas Provost produced a bronze medal on the men’s side with 4,731 total points.  

The final events on the track for the weekend were the 4×400-meter relays, which are always a display of the depth of the squads. Although UConn did not have the best finishes in the distance-medley relays earlier in the meet, it had a point to prove in the 4×400. The women were up first, and the quartet of Jessica Starr, Lavarnway, Jalah Cooper and Raquel Rosa finished over a second ahead of second place. Lavarnway ran a very impressive leg of 54.87 seconds, which would have placed second in the 400 individual competition. The men, not to be outdone, also won their 4×400 competition. The quartet of Anish Rajamanickam, Sharif, Mekhi Stone and Ventura beat a strong DePaul outfit to the line, with Ventura anchoring the side home in an impressive 46.38 second clocking.  

Overall, the Huskies were dominant across the weekend, with 14 gold medals and 30 individual medals. Going back-to-back in the Big East is also a huge boost for the start of outdoors, where the Huskies will look to defend another title at the Big East outdoor championships.    

Leave a Reply