Jan. 12, 2005
KINGSTON, R.I. - The 2004-2005 University of Rhode Island track & field team has its sight set high. Defending their outdoor New England Title, as well as the indoor and outdoor Atlantic 10 championships is simply not enough. This year's track & field team covets the elusive New England Indoor Championship, after finishing as runners-up in 2003-2004. The Rams have won three of the last four conference indoor titles and four-straight A10 outdoor championships.
THE TRACK EVENTS
Sprints Coming off of one of the best years in URI history, the sprint corps returns in full force. Three of the four legs on the school record 3:09.70 4x400-meter relay return, led by sophomore Ashhad Agyapong. Agyapong, who ran 47.75 in the open 400 and 21.83 in the 200 meters during his freshman campaign, qualified for the USA Track & Field Junior Nationals and was invited to attend the USATF Junior Elite Camp in the summer of 2004. Agyapong was also named Atlantic 10 Indoor Rookie of the Year.
Junior Rob Johnson and sophomore Darnell Douglas join Agyapong as returnees who all look toward an ICAAAA 4x400 relay championship. Johnson, who ran 47.79 in the 400 meters, looks to repeat as the Atlantic 10 quarter mile champion and become a New England champion. Douglas, who has repeatedly split sub 48 seconds, seeks to establish himself as New England scorer. In open events, the above three should be a force to be reckoned from 100-400 meters.
Not to be overshadowed by the likes of Agyapong, Douglas and Johnson is Rutland, Vt. native Eric Groce. Groce is the URI and New England Intercollegiate record holder in the indoor 200 meters with a time of 21.21. The junior holds URI school records in the 100m, 200m (indoors), and the 4x100 meters (with Johnson and Agyapong). Groce boasts personal best's of 6.48, 10.46 and 21.21. A three-time New England champion and a three-time Atlantic 10 champion, Groce looks toward the NCAA Championship this year.
Providing depth to the sprint group are two Rhode Island natives, freshmen Brendan Lamboy (10.98, 22.38) and Ronnie Williams (6.60).
Hurdles The graduation of two-time NCAA qualifier Colin Aina sets the stage for three young hurdlers to rise up. Sophomore LaeJon Brooks will look to lead the group, coming off of an injury plagued freshman campaign in which he still managed to score at the ICAAAA's. A sub 53-second intermediate hurlder, Brooks placed sixth in the high hurdles with a personal best of 14.36.
Together with Brooks, sophomores Christopher Adams and Bremen deHaan, and junior Patrick Mills should be a deep, solid group of hurdlers who will seek to break the shuttle hurdle record at the Penn Relays in 2005. All three look to run mid to low 14's with the two sophomores running 15.06 and 15.14, respectively. Karsten Stammen, a graduate student hailing from Germany should be a New England scorer in this his only year with the Rams, having run 52.84 in the intermediate hurdles.
Middle Distance/Distance Junior cross country captains Andrew and Kyle Poland lead a very young group of distance runners in the 2004-2005 season. Having been all-state cross country and track athletes in high school at nearby Ponaganset High, both have shown impressive improvement each year they have been a part of the program. Andrew has improved from 9:19 to 8:57 in the 3000 meters. Kyle, has made the jump from 27:53 to 26:50 in cross country, moving him up 40 places at the Atlantic 10 meet to 26th place in just 3 years.
In the 800 meters, sophomore Dennis Sheppard returns with a personal best of 1:56, immediately followed by junior Leandro Bonvehi at 1:57. Sophomore Shaun Horgan has run 4:17 for the mile and 2:31 for the 1,000 meters. Freshmen John Cuoco (2:39) and Ryan Moore (4:27) should provide depth to the group and will be crucial to URI's relay success.
THE FIELD EVENTS
Jumps Evan Lima leads the jumps group, returning as the premiere high and triple jumper. Having finished sixth at the NCAA Regional Championships (via a jump off), Lima boasts a personal best of 6-foot-10. In the triple jump, Lima's PR of 46-9 should vastly improve with his shift away from the multi events and his focus on his two primary jumping events. A consistent New England scorer, Lima's efforts will be focused on the ICAAAA and beyond.
Sophomore Denis Street returns for the Rams in the horizontal jumps. With a personal best of 23-3 in the long jump, Street has his eyes on the New England title, having won the Atlantic 10 championship as a freshman. Street kept the streak alive, winning URI's fourth consecutive long jump championship, and the seventh in the last eight years for the Rams.
In the triple jump, Street improved his personal best to 44-11 as a freshman, from 41 feet as a high school senior. Sophomores Adams and deHaan, as well as newcomers Tom Opp, David Delude and Akintola Fayanjuola, will back up Lima and Street.
Although the other jumping events are laden with talent, it is the pole vault group that holds the most depth. Senior Taylor Majewski is coming off of his best year in which he won two Atlantic 10 titles and recorded a PR of 14-11.5. Backing up Majewski is junior Adam Zucconi (15-3), who was A-10 Indoor Champion in 2003. Three freshmen, Sutton Underwood (14-7), Sean Strizzi (14-3) and Patrick Griffin (14-9), should all make an immediate impact at the Atlantic 10 and New England levels.
Multi Events The NCAA's move to the heptathlon changed the face of the multi events at URI. Junior Patrick Mills has the most experience in the multi's, scoring in the 2004 Indoor New England Pentathlon. Sophomore Joshua Perlman, who was an Atlantic 10 scorer in the pole vault as a freshman, is excelling in his grasp of the other events and projects to follow in Mills' footsteps. Two of the freshmen pole vaulters, Strizzi and Underwood will also try their hands at the multi events.
Throws Senior Andre' Reid leads the very talented throws group at the University of Rhode Island. Reid, who was seventh at the NCAA Regional Championship, has a personal best of 58-7 in the shot put and looks for All-American status in his senior year. A school record holder in the indoor and outdoor shot put events, Reid is within three feet of Kent Bolster's school record of 176-8, which has stood since 1982, and is competitive at the New England level in the javelin, hammer and 35-pound weight events. Reid's numerous accolades include A-10 Outdoor Most Outstanding Field Event Performer in both 2003 and 2004.
Another senior, Sean Bramley, will also be missed upon graduation. Bramley, who was recruited primarily as a discus thrower, has been a consistent scorer in the shot put, hammer and 35-pound weight as well as his primary event at the New England and Atlantic 10 levels. Having qualified for the ICAAAA since his freshman year, Bramley has a chance to score not only at this meet, but to earn All-East honors as a senior.
A very talented group of sophomores will join Bramley in the hammer and 35-pound weight. Dan Godin, who was a high school national champion in both events, has his sights set on the NCAA Regional meet. He and his classmate Paul Chobanian a red-shirt transfer student, were both Atlantic 10 and New England scorers as freshmen.
Junior Robert Scales who has a best of 209-0 in the javelin is just ten feet shy of the URI record and looks to win his second Atlantic 10 title. Reid and sophomore Jamal Blackson, who both predict to be 200-foot throwers in 2005, will back up Scales.
Behind Reid and Bramley in the shot and discus are a trio of freshmen who look to make an immediate statement. Ryan McCarthy, who is primarily a shot putter, came on strong at the end of his senior year, throwing over 57-feet with the 12-pound ball. In the discus Stefano Petraglia brings a 182-6 throw to URI, while Michael Bernardo shows potential at 158-0.