The UConn track and field team headed down to Orlando, Florida to compete in the UCF Black and Gold outdoor season opener. Coming off consecutive titles at the Big East Championship, the Huskies had a reputation to uphold in the Sunshine State.
The 2022-2023 indoor season can be summarized in one word: success. After wrapping up the indoor season with 12 first-place finishes at the Big East championship, numerous school records and an unmatchable work ethic, Connecticut was just getting started.
Mahamed Sharif went on to represent UConn at Nationals in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Sharif finished the 800m run in 12th place with a time of 1:52.23, an impressive feat for the junior who has shaved off roughly six seconds since the beginning of the season.
Now, as the Huskies look toward the spring season, the UCF Black and Gold Invitational demonstrated promising results. However, there are a number of differences between the indoor and outdoor seasons, one of them being the specific events. The spring season debuts various events that require slightly different training and strategy. Some of these events include the 100m, 400m hurdles, javelin and 4x100m relay.
The 100m dash debuted with freshman duo Mehki Stone and Marc Morrison finishing within one second of each other. Representing the women, A’Liyah Thomas finished with a time of 11.83, placing her within the top 10. In addition, the 400m hurdles opened with Terrel Williams (56.25), William Watson (58.23) and Jessica Starr (1:06.13).
In the field, the javelin debuted with four Connecticut throwers. Tanner Jameson, Colin Winkler, Joseph Venables and Gabriel Fountain all finished within the top 15, a remarkable accomplishment this early on in the year.
Since it’s only the first meet of the season, UConn has yet to put out a 4x100m relay for either men’s or women’s team. The 4x100m will be the event to look out for as the season progresses.
Whilst sharing the track with powerhouses Michigan, Northeastern and Rutgers, the Big East Champions were no stranger to fierce competition. Among some of Connecticut’s top performances for the men’s team included Morrison in the long jump, Matthew Brady in the shot put, and Kevin Cawley in the 1500m run. Wellington Ventura finished in 5th place in the 400m dash with a time of 47.32, not too far off from his personal best.
As for the women, Thomas broke her personal record in the long jump with a distance of 6.41m, earning her a silver medal in the event. Looking towards the field, Patricia Mroczkowski reclaimed her top spot in the pole vault with a jump of 1.76m.
Although the season has just begun, that didn’t stop the team from setting a multitude of personal records from the get-go. Caroline Towle dropped a personal best in the 3,000m run with a time of 10:08.58. In the same event, sophomore Samuel Gieler beat his PR with a time of 8:28.30. Fellow distance runner Chloe Thomas was yet another athlete to obtain a record in the 1500m with a second-place time of 4:22.53.
Across the board, the Huskies have already accomplished various feats from just one meet. As the season continues, the progression of the 100m and 400m hurdles will be the newest events to watch.
Looking ahead, the Huskies will face southern competitors at the Raleigh Relays in North Carolina from March 23 to March 25.