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Men, women compete in Boston

The men and women’s indoor track and field teams logged several strong performances against top competition over the weekend.  The women’s team placed eighth out of 44 teams at the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) Championships on Sunday, while the men’s team finished 22nd out of 43 teams in the Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America (IC4A) Championships. 

“Our goal was to score 20 points and we ended up scoring 29 so we’re happy with the team performance and really happy with the performance we’ve had this whole month,” women’s coach Robert Hoppler said. 

The women’s distance medley relay (DMR) team contributed to the ‘Cats 29 overall points with an impressive first place finish, clocking in at 11-minutes, 32.39-seconds.  The combination of freshman Shannon Murdock, sophomore Danielle Gajewski, and juniors Alyson Messina and Amanda Szymanski proved to be very effective. With no seniors competing, the group will only continue to improve.

“Rosie has had an unbelievable year and a great season,” Hoppler said, singling out distance runner Laura Rose Donegan for praise. Donegan set a new school record in the 3,000-meter race with a time of 9:26.72. Donegan’s time was good for a second place finish in the meet, and allowed her to beat teammate Elinor Purrier’s 3,000 record that was set earlier in the season.  Donegan was followed up by teammate Chelsey Serrano, who finished in 9:42.39, a new personal record.  Donegan currently owns two indoor school records.

Senior sprinter Lauren Perrodin continued to be a force in the 60-meter dash with a third place finish in a time of 7.64 seconds.  Cassie Kruse came up with an eighth place finish in the 1,000-meter race, completing the event in 2:53.08.   Seniors Brianna Boden and Amber Short both set personal records in the 5,000-meter race.  Boden placed fifth with a time of 16.43.97 and Short ninth with a 16:50.72. 

“We just had two tremendous seasons and we’re trying to go three for three.  As far as America East is concerned, we won the cross country championships, got second indoors and we think we can do really well indoors,” said Hoppler.  Hoppler was named NCAA Division I Northeast Region Assistant Coach of the Year by the Coaches Association on Friday.

“It’s just indicative of what a great group of student athletes we have and I’m just very fortunate to be able to work with these kids,” Hoppler said. “It’s really their award, that’s the way I look at it.  I think the university should be very proud of what this team was able to accomplish.” 

While the ECACs was the final meet for the indoor season for many, Elinor Purrier will be competing March 11 and 12 at the 2016 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in Birmingham, Alabama.  Purrier is seeded first with the nation’s fastest mile time of 4:29.71.  With the best competition in the nation competing at the meet, Purrier is poised to be at her best in the event she has dominated this year. 

The men’s team closed out their indoor season with some strong performances at the IC4As.  Highlighted by Michael Shanahan’s gold medal in the weight throw, the team is now focusing on continuing to improve in the outdoor season after it recovers from indoor.

“Winning two IC4A championships in a row is an amazing feat, and this year was different.  He threw almost two meters farther this year to win than what he threw last year. His improvements, consistency, and most of all his ability to compete in big meets is great, and IC4As is a big meet,” men’s head coach Robert Boulanger said of Shanahan’s successful outing. Shanahan’s throw of 67 feet, 11.75 inches helped his team score a much-needed 10 points. 

“I think there was a change in pressure for him and he handled it very well,” Boulanger said of senior Brendan McCarthy’s performance in the DMR.  The DMR team of Brett Hoerner, Drew Piazza, William Ulrich, and McCarthy battled for a seventh place finish with a time of 10:03.72.  Finishing second in the preliminary round on Saturday, the time was tough to hang on to due to the quick turnover of running the same event on Sunday. 

“[Hoerner and Ulrich] established themselves as two of the best freshmen in New England and you get a lot of questions from people like ‘who are they?’” Boulanger said, lauding the two rookie runners.

Others who raced this weekend include brothers Joseph and Christopher Poggi, who went 35th and 40th in the 800-meter race, respectively.  Senior sprinter Isaiah Penn placed eleventh in the 400-meter prelims with a time of 48.34 seconds.        

“I think the season went tremendously well for the whole group.  We have a lot of things to work on for the outdoor season, which is only three and a half weeks away.  We’ll keep our fitness and do some active rest,” Boulanger said. “Some of the kids have had really long seasons and we’ll go to outdoor and hope the weather stays nice like it has been.” 

The indoor season is not over for one of the men’s runners. Piazza ran the 400-meter leg of the DMR over the weekend and has been a versatile runner all season for the ‘Cats. He is gearing up for the 800-meter race at the NCAA Championships.

“At least he knows he isn’t short of leg speed going into nationals,” Boulanger said of the junior, who owns the nation’s 10th fastest time in the 800 with a 1:47.28.

“It’s the NCAA. The field is loaded but he belongs there,” Boulanger said. “The time he posted is a wonderful time, so let’s go out and see what he brings to the table on Friday.”

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