BALTIMORE – With one more chance to prepare for the 2014 America East Indoor Championships at the New York Armory, the UMBC track and field teams travel once again to New York to make their final preparations at the same facility at the Rider/Lafayette Winter Games on Friday.
Both of the Retriever squads make the trip back to New York ranked No. 13 in the latest United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Mid-Atlantic Regional Poll which was released on Tuesday.
The UMBC men have excelled this winter thanks in large part to their distance team. Seniors Andrew Smith (Chadds Ford, Pa./Garnet Valley) and Jake Albino (Hampton, N.Y./Minisink Valley), as well as sophomore Hassan Omar (Frederick, Md./Thomas Johnson), have all broken school records this season while all qualifying for the IC4A Championships in their respective events.
Smith enters the weekend with the top time in the 800m run (1:49.15) in the conference by over two seconds while also ranking tied for 17th nationally. He also holds the fifth-best time in the 1,000m (2:25.60) in the conference, just behind Albino's school-record time of 2:25.48 from last week's Armory Collegiate Invitational. Albino also sits second in the league in the one-mile run (4:08.97). The two seniors will both compete in the 800m on Friday.
Omar, meanwhile, has set two school marks this season, both while competing on the Armory track. The sophomore set the 3,000m record (8:23.50) at the NYU Team Challenge on Jan. 24 to rank fifth in the America East while his 5,000m record of 14:32.71 from last week's competition sits second in the league. Omar will have the weekend off before the America East Championships next Sunday.
The women's distance crew has also achieved record-breaking success, led by senior Cody Mezebish (Westminster, Md./South Carroll) and junior Sarah Daly (Lake Orion, Mich./Lake Orion). Mezebish originally broke the UMBC mark in the 1,000m run at the Penn State Relays on Jan. 11, but both athletes inched past it last week in New York with Daly edging out her teammate to take the school lead (2:53.04) and sit sixth in the America East rankings. Sophomore Angelina Oputa (Bowie, Md./Elizabeth Seton) also set a personal-best last week (2:58.06) to claim the third spot in the UMBC standings. All three athletes will rest this weekend.
Junior sprinter Mercedes Jackson (Huntingtown, Md./Huntingtown) recorded season-bests in both the 60m dash (7.41) and 200m dash (24.17) last week and is seeking a second-straight qualifying spot at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Jackson leads the conference in both events with her 60m time ranking tied for 28th nationally.
Senior Kirsten Jones (Brentwood, Tenn./M.L.K Magnet) sits second in the 500m run (1:14.54) and third in both the 200m (24.87) and 400m (56.14) events, having qualified for the ECAC Championships in all three. Both Jackson and Jones will have the weekend off, but sophomore D'Nique Phillip (Elkton, Md./North East), who ranks ninth in the 60m dash in the conference, will run the 60m and 200m events in New York.
Mid-distance runner Erick Soetje (Clarksburg, Md.) set a personal-best in the 400m dash (49.54) last weekend to jump to fourth in the UMBC record book and ninth in the conference. The freshman also sits 12th in the America East in the 500m with his season-best time of 1:05.40. Soetje will run in the 500 at the Armory on Friday.
School record holder Alisha Beeman (Bridgeport, Conn./Bunnell/Hartford) ranks third the high jump with her school-best leap of 1.71m (5'7.25). The junior's best is just 1.50m behind conference leader Brittany St. Clair from Vermont. Looking to diversify, Beeman will compete in the 60m hurdles, long jump, and shot put on Friday.
Junior Thor Serafenas (Olney, Md./Good Counsel/Clemson) paces the UMBC throwers and sits sixth in both the shot put and the weight throw. Serafenas posted a season-best of 14.86m (48'9") in the shot put last weekend while his best effort in the weight throw (17.06m; 56'11.75") came at the Penn State National Invitational on Jan. 31. He will compete in both events this weekend.
For the women, sophomore Nneoma Edokobio (Rockville, Md./Richard Montgomery) holds a top-five spot in both throwing events. Edokobi, who will compete in both events at the Armory, is third in the shot with her heave of 12.91m (44'4.25) at the Bison Opener and fifth in the weight throw from her performance at the Terrapin Invitational (15.26m; 50'0.75").