For the first time in ten years, UMBC will be hosting the America East Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Beginning Saturday May 5 and ending on Sunday May 6, over 500 student-athletes from the America East conference will make their way to Catonsville to participate in this event. This event will show off not just the great student-athletes UMBC has to offer, but the facilities as well. UMBC has been building the track and field facilities up to prepare for this event, including a javelin runway and a hammer throw cage as well as pits for jumping events. Prior to this, the athletes would have to throw on grass, but these upgrades will help the Retrievers achieve greatness. When head coach David Bobb first attended UMBC in the late 1990’s, there was no track on campus, and now the facilities will help bring the program into a new era.
The two-day event will begin Saturday at 10 a.m. with the first half men’s decathlon and the first four events of the women’s heptathlon, followed by throwing and jumping events throughout the afternoon. The track will begin trials in middle distance events, such as the 400 and 800 meters as well as hurdles events. The day will conclude with the men’s and women’s 10,000 meters.
Sunday will begin at 9 a.m. with the conclusions of the men’s decathlon and the women’s heptathlon, followed by a few throwing events and jumping events. The afternoon will mostly be filled with the sprinting events, including the 4×100 meter relay, and the 100 meters, along with many other events throughout the day.
Some UMBC student-athletes to watch out for this weekend include senior James Oakley III, sophomore Brian Nelson, senior John Oputa, and senior Noel Njem, who were a part of the 4×200 meter relay event at the Penn Relays over the past weekend and came in first place in the Eastern Finals. Although the 4×200 meters is not in the AE Championships, these athletes will be running in other events, hoping to bring home championships for themselves and the university.
On the women’s side, athletes to watch out for include freshman Kelechi Nwanaga, and sophomore Kaya Knake. Nwanaga broke the school record in the javelin throw in her first collegiate throw, landing at a distance of 49.57m. Knake recorded the second fasted 800m run in school history with a time of 2:09:83, and in the indoor championships she broke the school record in the 800m.
UMBC has never won the Outdoor Track and Field conference championships, in men’s or women’s, with Albany winning both championships every year since 2009. When asked about the season, coach Bobb said, “We’ve had our ups and downs, been nicked up with injuries, and we are not as complete as we want, such as the jumps and certain distance events, but then again, you never know what’s going to happen, someone can always surprise you, and since it’s on their home track, anything can happen.”
The weather will be great, and the competition will be top quality, and fans can come out and see the Retrievers take on the conference, with the first 500 students getting free admission for the event.