Returning individual champions seek to defend four event titles in strong NE-10 field
EASTON, Mass. (May 5, 2011) – Stonehill College, ranked second in this week's U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Division II East Regional index, will compete for a conference title this weekend at the Northeast-10 Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships, hosted by the University of Massachusetts Lowell on Friday and Saturday, May 6 and 7.
The women's squad has earned three consecutive third-place finishes at the conference championships, and this weekend will be top contenders in an NE-10 field which dominates the East Regional index. The Skyhawks rank behind only defending NE-10 team champion Southern Connecticut State University, who came out on top in last year's meet hosted at Stonehill's W.B. Mason Stadium. The University of New Haven moves up two spots this week to the third ranking, and host UMass Lowell rounds out the NE-10 contingent in the regional top four.
The Skyhawks are defending NE-10 champions in four events, led by a pair of school-record championship performances by sophomore Olivia Dyson (Reading, Mass./Reading) on her home turf at last spring's meet. Dyson won individual titles in the javelin and high jump, establishing new program records in both events and earning her first career NE-10 championships. She will defend both this weekend, competing in the javelin throw on Friday evening and the high jump on Saturday.
Junior Christen Carrier (Manchester, N.H./Manchester Central) also ran to two first-place finishes for the Skyhawks last spring, including an individual victory in the 800-meter run in a school-record 2:14.38, which she will defend on Saturday afternoon. Carrier, senior Danielle Wheeler (Carmel, N.Y./Carmel), and junior Vlada Shelkova (Newington, Conn./Newington) are all defending champions in the 4x400m relay, teaming with Kathryn O'Leary for the victory in 2010.
Other returning conference champions include senior Lindsey Booth (Franklin, Mass./Franklin) and juniors Jill Alves (Whitman, Mass./Whitman-Hanson) and Susan O'Connell (East Greenwich, R.I./East Greenwich), who were members of the 4x800m relay squad that captured the NE-10 championship in 2009. Junior Erica Insel (Clinton, N.J./Voorhees) also claimed the conference title in the javelin that year, as the Skyhawks are two-time defending champions in the event.
Alves will lead a strong Skyhawk field Saturday in the 1500m run, entering the weekend as the second seed in the event after finishing 12th at last year's meet. Junior Maura Ferrarini (Springfield, Mass./Cathedral) also ranks among the top five times in this year's 1500m and will run the event for the first time at the conference championships, as will freshmen Sarah Biggers (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y./Lakeland) and Chelsea Bishop (Suffield, Conn./Suffield), seeded eighth and ninth. Sophomore Lynley Joynt (Guilderland, N.Y./Guilderland), Stonehill's highest finisher in the event at last year's championships with a sixth-place showing, will also return as the Skyhawks place five runners in the top 11 seeds.
Junior Kristen Mahoney (Weymouth, Mass./Weymouth) is enjoying a career year in the long distance events and stands to be among Stonehill's top contenders this weekend. Already a New England Outdoor Championships qualifier in both the 5000m and 10,000m events, Mahoney toppled the six-year-old program record in the 5000m at the Larry Ellis Invitational with a time of 17:29.40, shattering her previous career best by 40 seconds. Her time is the second-fastest in the NE-10 this spring and she will contest the event on Saturday in search of her first conference title.
Sophomore Caroline McBride (North Reading, Mass./North Reading), an All-Conference performer in the 5000m at February's indoor championships, joins Mahoney as a dual New Englands qualifier in the 5000m and 10,000m. McBride will run as the top seed in the 10,000m event on Friday, aiming to defend the Skyhawks' championship in the event as Stonehill's Jessica Jarrard won it last year.
Sophomore Katie Bernazzani (Norwood, Mass./Norwood) will run for a conference title in the 100-meter hurdles a week after setting a program record in the event at the Skyhawk Invitational. Bernazzani posted a time of 15.29 seconds to slice nearly two-tenths of a second off her previous school record set as a freshman, and has also qualified to run the event at the New England Championships for the second consecutive year. She finished fifth in the 100m hurdles as a rookie at last season's outdoor championships.
Leading the field in the 3000m steeplechase on Saturday will be sophomore Kristen Veit (Easthampton, Mass./Holyoke Catholic), whose career-best mark of 11:34.24 at the George Davis Invitational ranks second among NE-10 times this season behind only teammate Ferrarini, who will not contest the event this weekend. Veit turned in a strong performance in the steeplechase as a freshman at last year's championships, placing third overall.
Freshman Krista Chauvin (Seekonk, Mass./Seekonk) ranks among the NE-10's top rookie throwers this spring and will compete in three events this weekend, seeded fifth in both the discus and javelin throw and 10th in the hammer throw. Chauvin has collected six top-five finishes across the three events in a strong freshman season, and notched her season-best mark in the hammer throw with a distance of 118 feet, six inches at last week's Skyhawk Invitational. She placed ninth in both the shot put and weight throw at this winter's indoor conference meet, and owns Stonehill's indoor shot put record.
Friday's schedule at the Cushing Field Complex will get underway with the field events at 4:30 p.m. Saturday's events will begin at 11:30 a.m.