Junior Elinor Purrier got it done, yet again, by breaking her own school record in the 3000-meter steeplechase on Saturday night at the Ocean State Invitational at Providence College.
After focusing mainly on the mile for the indoor season, this was Purrier’s first race back to steeplechase since competing at the NCAA Championships last June. Her first-place time of 9-minutes, 43.65-seconds is the fastest collegiate time in the nation thus far and surpassed her old record mark of 9:47.71.
The remaining members of the women’s team pulled off a tight victory on Saturday at the Wildcat Invitational. The ‘Cats scored 199.50 points, ahead of the University of Maine’s 189, Bates College’s 140.50 and Merrimack College’s 79. Staying strong in the field events was junior Emily Wernig with a first-place discus toss of 133 feet, 3 inches and junior Kari Murnane winning the pole vault at 11 feet, 1.75 inches. Shelby Strickland and Rachel Morrison placed second and fourth in the high jump, respectively. Senior Alyson Messina and sophomore Emileigh Glode went back-to-back in the 400m hurdles for first and second place, respectively.
Other members of the small squad sent to Providence held their own as well, with a second-place finish from senior Cassie Kruse in the mile (5:00.06), Danielle Gajewski with a fourth-place finish in the 800m (2:09.86) and Alexandria Giese, Amanda Szymanski and Margaret Champagne taking second, third and fourth, respectively, in the 5000m run.
“I felt good. Weather was really good. I definitely need to work on my steps this week and my start but I had a really good finish so I’m proud of that,” Glode said.
Glode also expressed her team’s excitement for the upcoming conference championship.
“I think being at home will really help and I think as a team we’ll do really well,” Glode said. “We came in second in outdoor last year and third in indoor this year, which we weren’t that happy with, we felt we could do better, we came really close last year.”
The men’s team sent a smaller squad of four to Providence, where Jacob Kittredge finished third in the 800m with a new personal record (PR) at 1:51.94. Sophomore Brett Hoerner placed eighth in the mile (4:10.58) alongside fellow sophomore William Ulrich who set a new PR by crossing the line in 4:12.42, finishing 11th. Senior Brandon Allen obtained fifth place in the 400m (49.57).
Back at home the men fended off Bates and Merrimack but fell to Maine by just one point in the Wildcat Invitational. Individual victories came from Andrew McFarland in the 400m hurdles (55.00), Ryan Chiesa in the steeplechase (9:33.30), Mitchell Carter in the triple jump with a new PR at 42-feet, 4.75-inches and Jon Chapman also with a PR throw in the hammer at 176-feet, 6 inches. Joel Nkounkou, a skilled multi-athlete, set a new PR in the 110m hurdles in a time of 14.96-seconds in route to the victory. Nkounkou contributed even more points when he finished second in the long jump and third in the high jump. Thrower Nicholas Ritzo accomplished first in the shot put as well with a new PR of 52-feet, 4-inches.
“It’s a decent time for me,” McFarland said of winning the 400m hurdles race. “I went 53.90 last year [and that] was my PR but [this was] my best time of the year so far so I guess I’m moving in the right direction.”
“I think the kids are getting ready and this was our first week outside,” men’s head coach Jim Boulanger said on his team’s performance. “The weather’s been so bad, been so cold, snow on the track, so this was a fun week.”
With the America East Championships just under three weeks away, the ‘Cats are seeing things sliding right into place.
“I’m hoping, for everyone, it’s an incentive to protect your own house,” Boulanger said on UNH hosting the conference championships. “The conference is at such a level now [where] it’s really good. You have to be really good to score. So we’ll keep battling away and get everyone to do their best that weekend.”
Next meet up for the Wildcats is the Larry Ellis Invitational in Princeton, New Jersey on April 20, and the UMass Lowell Invitational on Saturday, April 22.