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Piazza, Purrier climb national rankings

The men’s and women’s track teams completed a busy weekend, but the looming America East Conference Championships haven’t kept them from posting some impressive times in this weekend’s races.

On the women’s side, the ‘Cats sent several top athletes to the competitive David Hemery Valentine Invitational on Friday.  Sophomore Elinor Purrier stamped her name into history once again with a blistering mile time of 4 minutes, 29.17 seconds.  Purrier broke her own school record of 4:36.14 that she set her freshman year, and her new time is currently the fastest collegiate mile time in the entire nation.  Running this race against professional runners, her incredible time was good for fourth in the race. 

Laura Rose Donegan also performed well in the mile, setting a new personal record by almost five seconds with a time of 4:57.48, earning her a 26th place finish.  The time qualifies Donegan for an Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference appearance as well.  She was followed up by a 26th place finish by teammate Shannon Murdock.  Brianna Boden, Amber Short, and Amanda Syzmanski also qualified for Conference Championships in the 3000 meter race.      

While many accomplishments were being made Friday night in Boston, the other half of the women’s team went head to head with University of Maine.  The ‘Cats enjoyed three first place finishes with Angelyn Masters taking first in the mile with a time of 5:12.28 and two first-place finishes in the throwing circle.  Abigail Kaplan tossed the shotput for 40 feet, 9.75 inches, and Emily Wernig set a new personal record with a launch of 51 feet, 6.25 inches in the weight throw.  That throw tacked on a substantial 8 inches to her old personal record.  The ‘Cats took second place with 59 points to Maine’s 103. 

“We had kind of a good weekend,” Coach Boulanger said, half-jokingly about the men’s team’s performances this weekend at both of its meets. 

“Kind of” would be an understatement.  The men saw great performances Saturday at both the David Hemery Valentine Invitational in Boston and their dual meet at the University of Maine. 

A group of mostly freshman and sophomore was sent up to the dual meet in Maine while a smaller group was chosen to compete in Boston.  Coach Boulanger wanted his men to act as a team this weekend at Maine even though they might not have been selected to participate in the bigger Boston meet. 

“I’m a real team guy.  You’ll go with the team and act as a team and you’ll earn it,” Boulanger said. 

The philosophy played a good part in the close matchup with Maine as the ‘Cats took first with 90 points to Maine’s 75.  Ten first-place finishes provided the push that UNH needed to take home the win.

The Boston squad made plenty of noise as well, with good placement in many events and a few athletes breaking old personal records.  Two performances were also good enough to rank on the national scale.

Drew Piazza and Christopher Poggi both set new school records, breaking times from 2009.  But more importantly, the times they ran rank both men among the country’s top runners. Poggi achieved second place in Boston for the 500-meter race in a time of 1:03.34, which is currently tied for eleventh in the nation.  Poggi plans to run the 800 in the Conference Championship, where he is hoping to go below 1:50.   

Drew Piazza ran the 1,000-meter race in 2:21.97, earning him the meet victory in the event and placing himself second in the nation for the event. 

“I definitely feel like it prepped me for conference,” he said. “My last lap was the fastest lap for me and I still felt like I had something left in me.”

Boulanger thinks that the race will help Piazza at the America East conference meet next weekend.

“It’s all about him maintaining a good mental outlook,” Boulanger said.

In addition to the two nationally competitive racers, Michael Shanahan placed second in the weight throw with a toss of 67 feet, 0.50 inches and D’Mahl McFadden had a successful double event day, placing 41st in the 200 meter run and 16th in the 60 meter hurdles.  Andrew McFarland, Nathan Kittredge, and Brendan McCarthy all continue to progress this season with new personal records in their events Saturday.

Both teams will compete at next weekend’s America East Championships in New York. The meet will begin at 3 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 19 and wraps up on Saturday, Feb. 20.

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