This weekend, the UConn track and field team headed to Charlottesville, Virginia to compete in the Virginia Challenge, as well as Annapolis, Maryland. for the Navy Spring Invitational.
A small squad made their way to Virginia, with the highlights coming from the stellar jumping squad that has emerged this year. Marc Morrison took home second place in the long jump with a 7.64 meter effort. This was a new personal best, as well as the best mark for the team this season. Morrison is now just three centimeters short of equaling the school record, which he will look to achieve later this season.
Richmond Kwaateng also secured fourth place, jumping 7.44 meters. This is the first time the junior has cleared the seven-meter barrier outdoors, suggesting that he will only improve further as the season progresses.
Jasmine Barrow had a bittersweet performance in Charlottesville, as her 6.13 meter effort was with the help of an illegal tailwind of +3.5. With the legal limit being +2.0, this personal best will not count. However, this will act as a confidence booster, as clearing the six meter barrier with room to spare is still a fantastic achievement.
A larger squad made the trip to Maryland to compete in the Navy Spring Invitational.
Two standout performers from Annapolis were Mekhi Stone and Anish Rajamanickam. It is the first year for both of them on the team, and they are quickly establishing themselves as Big East finalist hopefuls.
In the 200m, Stone took home fourth place with a blistering 21.53 clocking. He was also able to finish in second place in the 400m with a time of 47.42. Although he finished higher in the latter, his 200m may be more impressive in my opinion. The fact that the freshman possesses this ability in the shorter distance, while focusing on the quarter mile so far this season, speaks to his versatility as a sprinter.
Rajamanickam ran a new personal best in the 200m with a 22.01 clocking. This improved on his previous times by nearly half of a second, and he will undoubtedly keep knocking on the door of the 22 second barrier in the coming weeks. In the quarter mile, he also finished in fourth place. His time of 48.50 is very promising in that the junior is now consistently breaking 49 seconds in this event.
The women’s 100m also featured some fantastic UConn talent. Mia Dansby finished in 11.75 seconds, which was enough for her to take home top spot. Brianna Davis was not far behind, earning second spot in 11.84 seconds.
The depth of the women’s sprinters was highlighted by their victory in the 4x100m relay. The quartet of Jailya Ash, Dansby, Davis and Danielle Phillip finished in 46.22 seconds, which beat out a strong Navy side by just two hundredths of a second. Relays are always an indicator of how successful a program has been in nurturing a plethora of talent, and this strong finish bodes well for the overall team strength this season.
Also in the sprints, Donovan Wright was able to take home third place in the 110m hurdles. With Terrel Williams not featuring, this high placing is a testament to the depth that is developing within the sprint hurdle contingent.
The female hurdlers also had a great day, with Gabrielle Davis topping the standings with a 1:01.54 clocking. Ash came in second place in the 100m hurdles with a time of 13.66, securing another podium position for the female sprint hurdlers.
Joron Harrell competed in Annapolis, and showed his prowess in the triple jump once again. The new transfer hopped, skipped and jumped his way to first place, with his best jump measuring 14.53 meters. This was just short of his 14.72 meter personal record from the Northeast Challenge last weekend, but it certainly was knocking on the door of an improvement.
Finally, the throws contingent were as impressive as usual, with four athletes taking home first place.
In the javelin, Connor Hayford threw 56.56 meters, which was the first of these top finishes. Bryan Madonna then followed suit in the women’s competition, with a mark of 44.34 meters.
In the discus, Emily Alty continued her stellar season by throwing 45.08 meters to secure top spot. Natalia Surdej also came in first place in the hammer throw, securing the Huskies three first place finishes in as many throwing events.
The Huskies will travel to Philadelphia next weekend to compete at the Penn Relays. This will certainly contain some of the toughest competition in the region, setting the squad up for a strong run through May. The Penn Relays will be the final meet before the Big East Championships, making it a crucial meet in terms of gaining experience against tough opposition.