By Emily Thibodeau Contributing Writer

UMF’s Track team is looking forward to a great season as they had a strong first meet at Eastern Connecticut State University. Individuals of the team broke school records, personal records, as well as qualifying for the New England championship.

    The team has had rough training conditions as they have been forced to practice inside due to the snow. The original time for first meet was rescheduled due to weather so the team was like “horses ready to get out of the gate,” according to head coach Dan Campbell.

    Some of the team’s highlights of the first meet include Olivia Ridley’s new personal best that also broke the school’s record for the 5000 meter race with a time of 18 minutes and 37 seconds. Laura Pulito qualified for New Englands in the 800 meter race, while Shane Hathaway and Corey Martin missed the qualifying time for New Englands by just over a second.

The track team engaging in fund raising off the track. (Photo by Cameron Eggerman)

   Ethan Solis, a first-year student also broke a school record at the first meet in the 200 meter race. This will be Solis’s fourth year doing track.

   “To be honest it’s amazing having that feeling of beating a personal record,” Solis said. “But when it comes to a school record, it’s just an overwhelming experience.”

   First-year student Abshir Abukar has been doing track for seven years and feels “pretty confident” about the upcoming season. Abukar got a new personal record in the 400 meter race at the first meet. Abukar said his goal is “to break 50 seconds in the 400 meter race” this season.

   The first meet ended with rough conditions when it started to rain during the last events. Solis said, “My shoe came untied at the start of my last race, it took forever to tie because my hands were shivering from the cold.” Abukar wasn’t bothered by the rain, saying, “It was cold but halfway through the race I stopped feeling everything because I was focused on beating the other guy.”

   The UMF track team has been part of the North Atlantic Conference (NAC) for the past three years. Campbell has been coaching the team during the past three years and is looking forward to building the team. This year the team has grown to 36 members with lots of promising freshmen.

     The team has high hopes for this year, as they believe they have a chance to compete well against other teams. Campbell said as long as there are no injuries or sickness he believes that the Men’s team could place second for the second year, and Women could place third or fourth overall for their conference. Campbell said he is expecting to see stronger individual and relay results this season.

     Abukar confidently said, “We’re gonna win NACs.” Solis agreed with Coach Campbell and said, “Our relays have a good chance of going to New Englands. I just hope that I can help my team when it comes to the NAC Championship because that is when it matters the most.”