Courtesy: UAlbany Sports Information
Cambridge, Mass. – The University at Albany men’s track and field team has been picked to finish first, while the women’s squad was projected to place third, according to the preseason poll conducted by the America East Conference head coaches.
The men’s team, which has won three straight and five of the past six conference championships, was unanimously selected to repeat this winter. The Great Danes received all eight possible first-place votes and accumulated 64 points. New Hampshire was picked second with 55 points and earned the final first-place vote. Binghamton (51 points) was chosen third and UMBC (39 points) narrowly edged out Boston University (38 points) for the fourth-place spot.
The Boston University women, winners of three consecutive titles, were unanimously picked to repeat as champions. Like the UAlbany men, the Terrier women received the maximum 64 points and eight first-place votes. New Hampshire was tabbed second, receiving 56 points and the remaining first-place vote. UAlbany landed in the third position with 50 points.
“This is the year in which we do not have any weak areas,” said head coach Roberto Vives, who is beginning his 24th season at the helm of the UAlbany men’s and women’s programs. “We just need to keep everybody healthy. We think we are going to have the most outstanding year that we have ever had at the University at Albany.”
Overseen by Vives himself, the sprinters and hurdlers should once again be one of the strongest groups on the team. Eleven all-conference selections from a year ago are back. Hurdlers Joe Greene, Jean Juste and Kamilah McShine as well as sprinter Pat Weider were all conference champions.
The middle distance runners could be one of the most improved groups on both squads this year. Vives and his staff have especially focused on bolstering this area as well as the distance group for the upcoming year. Five all-conference selections are back, including Joe Belokopitsky, John Moore, Tyler Fogarty, Ricardo Estremera and Laura Cummings.
The pack of distance competitors has not been as strong in recent years. However, Vives and his staff have significantly upgraded this group in quality and depth for the upcoming season. Estremera and Brian Yurkewecz are the top two returners on the men’s team, while the women should be led by Cummings.
Both jumping teams are stacked with returners and newcomers which should provide the greatest depth in any area of the squad. Five all-conference selections and an All-East honoree are back, and several first-year athletes also have a chance of earning the same honor right away. Triple jumper and tri-captain Michael McCadney and long jumper Valete Graham are returning conference champions. Senior Jenn Gurrant, an all-conference honoree in the triple jump, is the top returner on the women’s team.
The pole vaulters will be led by the school record holder on the men’s team and a high school national champion on the women’s squad. Luke Schoen, who earned All-America status in the event outdoors last season, is primed to break his own school record this winter. Newcomer Celine Cauderlier, a national champion from France, has cleared 12-07.75.
The throwers are one of the fastest-growing groups in size on both the men’s and women’s teams. With three All-America East selections back and a talented crop of newcomers, this area should continue to add more punch to the Great Danes’ point totals at the championship meets. Wilfredo de Jesus Elias was an all-conference selection in the weight throw and holds the school record. On the women’s team, Kadine Johnson and Candice Mann were all-league throwers after placing second and third, respectively, in the shot put.
America East Conference Preseason Men’s Indoor Track & Field Poll
1. UAlbany (8), 64; 2. New Hampshire (1), 55; 3. Binghamton, 51; 4. UMBC, 39; 5. Boston U., 38; 6. Stony Brook, 27; 7. Maine, 23; 8. Vermont, 19; 9. Hartford, 8. ( ) – first-place votes
America East Conference Preseason Women’s Indoor Track & Field Poll
1. Boston U. (8), 64; 2. New Hampshire (1), 56; 3. UAlbany, 50; 4. Maine, 34; 5. Binghamton, 33; 6. Stony Brook, 31; 7. UMBC, 30; 8. Vermont, 18; 9. Hartford, 8. ( ) – first-place votes
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Courtesy: UAlbany Sports Information