Track and Field: Huskies face old rivals and new competitors in Virginia Challenge

The UConn men’s and women’s track and field teams had a successful showing at the Northeast Challenge meet at home on April 15, 2023. Both teams finished first overall, with 19 personal records set throughout the weekend. Photo by Skyler Kim/The Daily Campus.

After sweeping the weekend in Storrs, Conn. for their last home meet of the season, the UConn track and field team is headed down to Charlottesville, Va. for the Virginia Challenge. The last time Connecticut came face to face with the Hoos was in late March for the Raleigh Relays, a matchup in which both teams scored high across events. 

One Virginia athlete to watch out for is sophomore Margot Appleton who took home the gold in the 1500-meter with a personal record of 4:08.96. After beating out 185 other women in the event, Appleton will be the runner to keep an eye on. While the start lists are not yet out, it is likely that Husky distance trio Jenna Zydanowicz, Chloe Thomas and Randi Burr could be going face-to-face with the UVA runner this weekend.  

As for Connecticut’s all-stars, A’liyah Thomas set the school record in the long jump this past weekend at the Northeast Challenge. Thomas’ record of 6.59 meters was a title previously held by Taylor Woods in 2019. Not only did the sophomore earn herself a spot with the greats, she went 1-2 in the 100-meter hurdles and 200-meter. It is safe to say that Thomas will be the talk of the track down in Virginia.  

Another record set at the Northeast Challenge was the leading man, Wellington Ventura. Ventura has been an absolute beast on the track this season and has been breaking record after record. This past weekend, Ventura knocked down his own school record in the 400-meter hurdles with an astounding time of 50.46. Ventura’s previous record was set last year at the Big East Championships.  

As the sprinters came roaring down the track, the throwers were making equally impressive strides on the field and dominated across the board. It was a big weekend for the javelin as seven athletes set personal records and placed high in the rankings. Conlin Winkler took the title for the men while Julia Moraitis, Brynn Madonna and Caitlin Dumouchel went two, three, four on the women’s side.  

As the season nears its end, the competition in Virginia will provide nuances for Connecticut’s usual rivalries. While the Huskies will look for a rematch with UVA, UNCA and George Washington after a battle at the Raleigh Relays, the Marshall and Navy squads will provide verve to the challenge.  

One key feature of the Navy’s team is its sheer size. The men’s team alone is over double that of Connecticut. It will be interesting to see how the Navy scores in comparison to its smaller counterparts.  

The four-day long event in Charlottesville will feature both track and field events accompanied by the heptathlon and decathlon. All in all, the meet should prove new competition, old rivals and a weekend for the record books.  

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