The University of Maine men’s and women’s outdoor track and field teams opened the 2016 season on Saturday, despite the rainy weather. The Black Bears played host to the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Wildcats and the Bates College Bobcats of Lewiston, Maine.
Due to the inclement weather, the pole vault, high jump, triple jump and long jump were moved inside to the New Balance Field House, while all other events took place outside as scheduled at the Beckett Family Track and Field Complex.
On the men’s side, UNH took first place with 143 total points, followed by Maine with 132 and Bates with 105.
The Black Bears’ second place finish was highlighted by fourth-year runner Jake Leithiser, who picked up an individual win in the 400-meter run with a time of 40.06. Leithiser was also a part of the 4×400 relay team that took first place with a time of 3:20.92. The relay team also included fellow fourth-years Michael Lucas and Tyler Martin, as well as first-year Tucker Corbett. Corbett, who anchored the relay. Second-year Kelby Mace took first in the javelin throw with a launch of 51.44 meters.
The Black Bears saw some success in the jumping events as well, picking up two first place victories, with a slew of second place finishes. Fourth-year Julian Hubbard illustrated his athleticism by taking the victory in the long jump with a leap of 6.41 meters. Third-year Asaad Hicks took first in the high jump, clearing 1.98 meters. Martin showed his versatility by taking second in the high jump behind Hicks. Second-year Steven Longfellow hopped, skipped and jumped his way to a second-place finish with a mark of 13.15 meters in the triple jump. Second-year thrower Jeremy Frantz took second in the shot put with a distance of 14.13 meters. Third-year Devin Burgess earned a second-place finish in the pole vault, clearing a height of 4.27 meters.
Other notable Black Bear finishers in the track events were Lucas who took second in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 55.45. Second-year sprinter Garrett Johnson ran the 100-meter dash in 11.53, good enough for second-place. Second-year Jesse Orach showed his endurance picking up a second-place finish in the 5,000-meter with a time of 15:03.87, just over two seconds behind the winner.
On the women’s side, the Black Bears posted nine first place victories en route to winning the three-team meet. Maine finished with 149.50 points, followed by UNH with 130 points and Bates with 85.50 points.
Third-year thrower Ashley Donohoe had an outstanding first meet picking up a victory in the shot put, second in the discus and third in the hammer throw. Her distances were 11.71 meters, 37.68 meters and 44.68 meters, respectively. Due to the scoring format, only the top two finishers from each school in each event can earn countable points, therefore, Donohoe’s mark in the hammer throw did not net the Black Bears any points to their team total. Fourth-year Robyn McFetters took first in the event with a throw of 58.57 meters followed by fellow fourth-year Emily Boardman who was marked at 47.55 meters.
The first-place for McFetters in the hammer throw builds off of what has already been a remarkable career as a Black Bear. McFetters, who hails from Barrington, R.I., holds the school record for the hammer throw with a mark of 60.50 meters. She set the record at last years’ Penn Relays. McFetters holds the top three spots on the UMaine Women’s Outdoor Track & Field All-Time Records list.
McFetters was pleased with her performance in the first event of her final season.
“Going into the meet, I felt ready. I have been training hard and I am very happy with how my season opened,” McFetters said.
Despite the rainy weather, McFetters added that she was glad the season opener was at home, as it was nice to have her friends and family cheering her on. When asked of her personal goals for the season, McFetters added that she hopes to qualify for nationals this year.
“I have made it to regionals, which is the top 48 throwers from the East Coast a few times, but nationals will the next step for me,” McFetters explained. Nationals showcases the top 12 throwers from the East and West regions.
Third-year Teal Jackson of Brewer picked up three victories in the meet. The speedy Jackson won the 400 meters (58.51), the 200 meters (26.24) and was the third leg in the 4×100 relay team that won the event with a time of 48.59. The other members of the relay team were first-years Ariel Clachar and Lauren Magnuson, as well as the anchor, fourth-year Jaclyn Masters. Masters also improved her impressive pole vaulting career by taking first-place in the event, clearing 3.81 meters. Clachar got her rookie campaign off to a great start adding a first place finish in the long jump with a mark of 5.50 meters.
Second-year Kaitlin Saulter took first in the 800-meter, running the event in 2:19.71. Saulter was also the second leg of the 4×400 relay team that clocked in at 4:07.29, earning the victory for the Black Bears. Saulter was joined by third-years Kelsey Maxim and Ahlin Sungsuwan and second-year Alexis Dietrich.
In addition to the nine victories, the Black Bears picked up a handful of second-place finishes. These included Maxim in the 800-meter (2:21.77), Masters in the 200-meter (26.68), first-year Lucia Guarnieri in the triple jump (10.99 meters), third-year Grace MacLean in the 100-meter hurdles (15.41), second-year Grace Macura in the 400-meter (59.21), first-year Brianna DeGone in the javelin throw (33.77 meters) and fourth-year Annabelle Wilson in the 5,000-meter (18:28.33).
Another notable event of the meet was the track debut of third-year Eve Boissonneault, who has spent the past three seasons as a member of the women’s hockey team, most recently the 2015-2016 campaign where she served as an alternate captain. Boissonneault, who is making the transition from the ice to the track, says she has always enjoyed running and been passionate about it.
“I’ve always been focused on hockey and now that I’m not playing anymore, I’ve decided to train for tack since I love doing it and have time to do it now,” Boissonneault said.
Boissonneault added that she enjoys the individual aspect of track.
“Because hockey is a team sport, it was important to do your part and be in position to help your teammates. In track, the only thing I need to focus on now is being mentally prepared to push through my legs burning. There is much less attention to detail, you just go out as hard as you can,” Boissonneault said.
Boissonneault posted a time of 2:26.97 in the 800-meter and said she hopes to lower that time to around 2:23. The last time Boissonneault ran was in high school, where her personal record was 2:20.
The men’s and women’s team will have a short week to train and recover before they return to action in what will be a busy weekend filled with traveling and competition. The two squads will travel to Florida for the Miami Hurricane Invitational on Friday, April 8 and then to New Hampshire for the Maine and Holy Cross meet the following afternoon.