A small UConn track and field squad made the trip to North Carolina this weekend to compete in the Raleigh Relays against some stiff opposition.
With athletes from the likes of Texas A&M, Notre Dame and Duke, it was always going to be a tough field for the Huskies to compete against.
The highest finisher on the day from UConn was Kevin Cawley in the 3,000m steeplechase. His 8:58.97 clocking was enough to earn him 18th place. Finishing just behind Cawley was Christopher Lepore, who came 21st with a time of 8:59.73.
Also finishing in 18th place was James Maniscalo in the 5,000m. The senior finished at 13:56.34, which earned him third place in his heat. Maniscalo will look to push on as the season progresses to emulate former teammate Eric Van Der Els, who made the NCAA championships in this event last year.
Alongside Maniscalo, Kabir Chavan ran a stellar personal record of 30:23.46 in the 10,000m. This was over two minutes faster than his effort at the Big East Championships in May last year, which bodes well for his season. The fact that he achieved this mark in his first race over 10,000m this season also suggests that he will continue to improve as the year progresses.
Additionally, Chavan running a 1500m at the UCF Black and Gold invite last week highlights his versatility and speed, which could be crucial in the Big East Championship this year.
The best female finisher was Rachael Woodruff, who ran the 3,000m steeplechase in 10:50.65. This was a personal best for the sophomore, who finished in 19th place.
Woodruff was also able to come home in first place in the opening section of this event, so perhaps she can be pushed to even greater heights in a more packed field later in the season. Her closest competition finished just under six seconds behind.
Finally, there were three UConn athletes who spiked up to compete in the 1500m. The best finisher of these was Chloe Thomas, who took home 23rd place in a tough field. Her 4:22.37 mark was just short of a personal best, but showed some great conditioning following a tough week of training in Florida.
The sophomore placed fourth in the mile at the Big East Indoor Championships in February this year, and it seems that her momentum will continue into the outdoor season.
Jenna Zydanowicz also finished well in the 1500m, recording a time of 4:28.56. Finishing just outside the top 50 athletes in a 185-strong field was impressive as the junior usually focuses on the longer running events.
Samuel Geisler capped off what was a solid competition for the Huskies, as he came home in a new personal best of 3:48.12 in the 1500m. Finishing in a similar position to Zydanowicz, Geisler will also look to translate this to the longer events following his victory in the 3,000m in Florida last weekend.
Overall, this was a very solid showing from a small UConn contingent. The athletes were also coming off from a grueling training week in Florida, meaning that these times were not run on fresh legs.
As the outdoor season really kicks into gear, the Huskies will be racing at home next weekend. The Dog Fight, hosted by UConn, will take place at the Sherman field complex right here on campus, giving the athletes a chance to compete in front of a home crowd.