BOSTON, Mass. – UMass Lowell red shirt freshman pole vaulter Vladimir Popusoi (Greenfield, Mass.) took an eraser to the school record book to highlight a solid effort by the River Hawk men’s track and field team, Saturday, at the John Thomas Terrier Classic hosted by Boston University, at the Track and Tennis Center, in Boston, Mass.
Popusoi, for the second time in two weeks, broke the UMass Lowell record in the pole vault clearing the bar at 15-feet, nine-inches. Fourteen days earlier Popusoi had crossed Garrett King‘s name off leader board and replaced it with his own with a vault of 15-feet 5 3/4-inches and that seemed to take the pressure off.
“He is now more focused on just going higher than facing the pressure of trying to break a record,” said UMass Lowell Head Coach Gary Gardner. “He looked as good as I’ve ever seen him.”
Popusoi cleared the bar on his first attempt, but failed three times at 16-feet even.
“His strength is his consistency,” said Gardner. “His approach is consistent; his technique is consistent and getting cleaner. He’s athletic, well put together, he has strength and speed and he has body awareness and that’s extremely important when you are 16 feet in the air.”
The record breaking vault came with a supportive audience watching. Popusoi’s family was in attendance. It was the first time they had ever seen him compete.
The pole vault may have grabbed the headline, but it was just one in a series of strong performances by UMass Lowell athletes.
“It was a good day,” said Gardner. “We had ten or twelve personal bests. Some people competed really well. We’re a young team and there were some bumps in the road, but we learned what we need to work on.”
It was the type of day that coaches like. “It was a positive weekend,” said Gardner. “There were some terrific performances and there were teaching points.”
Sophomore Daniel Schmith (Bellingham, Mass.) qualified for the IC4A championships in the 1,000-meters. His time of two-minutes, 26.43-seconds was just two-seconds off the UMass Lowell record set by Omar Abdi in 2014. It also placed Schmith third in a field of 66 competitors.
“To finish third in that field of competition is great,” said Gardner. “He did everything right, he ran crazy fast.”
It is Schmith’s belief in his own abilities that may be his greatest asset.
“He thinks he’s good, he thinks he can beat anybody,” said Gardner. “He’s tenacious and he has that self-confidence, he never doubts himself and that is something that you can’t teach.”
Schmith was not the only runner to qualify for the IC4A Championships. Freshman Jackson Gallgher (Wakefield, Mass.) chopped several seconds off his personal best in the 800-meters. He clocked in at 1:53.93 good enough for 35th place in a field of 145.
“It was a little breakthrough,” said Gardner. “He got over a mental hurdle and knows that he can run a good 800.”
Sophomore Drew Fossa (Peabody, Mass.) qualified for the New England Championships with a time of 8:32.84 in the 3,000-meters.
Junior jumper Gilberto Brown (Lowell, Mass.) grabbed a fourth place finish in the high jump clearing the bar at six-feet, 6 3/4-inches.
The River Hawks return to competition Saturday, February 6th, at the Dartmouth Indoor Classic at the Leverone Field House in Hanover, N. H.