Track and Field Heads to New York in Search of First-Ever America East Title

Track and Field Heads to New York in Search of First-Ever America East Title

America East Preview

Championship Central

BALTIMORE – The UMBC track and field teams travel to New York City one final time this winter, in search of the program's first-ever America East championship, this weekend at the Armory.  The 2014 America East Indoor Track and Field Championships commence on Sunday afternoon with the men's heptathlon.

Last season, the women's squad recorded their best-ever finish at the indoor meet, placing second behind meet champion Albany.  Retriever head coach David Bobb and his staff were honored with the Conference Coaching Staff of the Year.  The men, meanwhile, finished third in Boston, trailing only Albany and Binghamton.

UMBC's men's team enters the weekend ranked No. 13 in the Mid-Atlantic Region by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) and fresh off back-to-back record-breaking weekends of competition at the Armory.  The women currently hold the No. 14 ranking in the poll and have had an equally successful winter season.

Senior Andrew Smith (Chadds Ford, Pa./Garnet Valley) won the 800m run last weekend at the Rider/Lafayette Winter Games and leads the conference in the event this season.  Smith broke the school record earlier this year at the NYU Team Challenge with a time of 1:51.30 and then lowered it to 1:49.15 at the Penn State Nationals.  The senior's top time not only leads the America East, but ranks tied for 24th in the country.  Smith will compete in the 800m event, as well as the distance medley relay and the 4x800m relay.

Classmate Jake Albino (Hampton, N.Y./Minisink Valley) has also put together a stellar senior campaign as well, breaking the school mark in the 1,000m run (2:25.48) at the Armory Collegiate Invitational two weeks ago.  Albino ranks fourth in the conference in the event and will join Smith on the two relay teams.

After a breakout cross country season in which he earned All-Conference and All-Region honors, sophomore Hassan Omar (Frederick, Md./Thomas Johnson) continued his stellar form this winter.  Omar snapped the school record in both the 3,000m run (8:23.50) and 5,000m run (14:32.71) and travels to New York ranked fifth and second in the respective events.

Senior Cody Mezbish (Westminster, Md./South Carroll) and junior Sarah Daly (Lake Orion, Mich./Lake Orion) have been impressive for the women, each surpassing the school mark in the 1,000m this season and qualifying for the ECAC Championships.  After Mezebish lowered the time to 2:56.58 at the Penn State Relays, both athletes trimmed it lower with Daly taking control of the lead (2:53.04) and Mezebish (2:53.23) right behind at the Armory Collegiate Invitational.  Each will compete in the event this weekend, and then team up for the distance medley relay and 4x800 relay.

In the sprints, junior Mercedes Jackson (Huntingtown, Md./Huntingtown) once again leads the conference after a successful indoor invitational season.  The reigning Most Outstanding Female Track Performer, Jackson posted a top 60m time of 7.41 at the Penn State Nationals to pace the America East and tie for 32nd in the nation.  In the 200m event, she leads with her time of 24.17 at the Armory Collegiate Invitational.

In the 400m dash, junior Kalane' Abbey (Laurel, Md./Laurel) heads into the weekend with the top entry time (56.92) in the event.  Freshman Mercedes Tillman (Waldorf, Md./North Point), last week's America East Most Outstanding Female Track Athlete, holds the fifth-best entry in the 400m (58.03).

Senior Deborah Adelola (Lanham, Md./Bladensburg) and junior Paulette Fogle (Washington, D.C./Bishop McNamara) rank third and fourth, respectively, in the 500m run, an event in which both will compete this weekend.  In addition, both with run the 4x400 relay while Fogle will also run the 60m hurdle event.

School record holder Alisha Beeman (Bridgeport, Conn./Bunnell/Hartford) will compete in the high jump and the pentathlon at the America East meet.  Beeman broke the school mark in the high jump by clearing 1.71m (5'7.25") at the Terrapin Invitational and ranks third in the conference.

Junior Thor Serafenas (Olney, Md./Good Counsel/Clemson) bested the field last weekend in the weight throw at the Rider/Lafayette Winter Games, while finishing third in the shot put.  Serafenas recorded a season-best in the weight throw (18.47m; 60'7.25") to move up to third in the UMBC record book and second in the conference standings.  His top shot put performance of 14.86m (48'9") at the Penn State Nationals ranks seventh.

Sophomore Nneoma Edokobi (Rockville, Md./Richard Montgomery) also earned a victory last weekend, taking the top honor in the shot put, and was named the America East Female Field Performer of the Week on Tuesday.  She makes the trip to New York sitting third in the shot put (12.91m; 42'4.25) and fifth in the weight throw (15.26m; 50'0.75").