LOWELL, Mass. – Red shirt freshman pole vaulter Vladimir Popusoi (Greenfield Mass.) appears to be reaching for the sky and getting there. Popusoi broke the school pole vault record for the second time in as many weeks to highlight a strong showing by the UMass Lowell track and field teams at the River Hawk Invitational, Saturday, at the River Hawk Invitational at the Cushing Field Complex in Lowell.
Popusoi won the pole vault clearing the bar at 16-feet on his first attempt at the height. A week ago, Popusoi wrote his name into the outdoor record book when he cleared 15-feet, seven-inches. He already holds the indoor record at 15-feet, 11-inches.
“He’s just rolling along, his confidence is sky high,” said Head Coach Gary Gardner. “Clearing 16-feet removes that mental hurdle and there is still more there. This was not a perfect day, it was chilly, 48 to 50-degrees, not the best for vaulting. It’s going to be interesting to see what he can do.”
The key for any vaulter is the approach and Popusoi appears to have that right where he needs it.
“His approach is so consistent,” said Gardner. “When you have a consistent approach, everything else falls into place. (Assistant Coach) Pat (Swett) has done a great job working with him.”
Popusoi won the event by nearly three feet.
The showing was just one of many strong performances at the first River Hawk Invitational. This was the second time the event was scheduled for March but a year ago it was canceled after the city experienced a record winter snowfall that left the track under a thick layer of ice and snow.
“This was a great meet,” said Gardner. “It was the right size, we had the right number of teams and you want it to be competitive and it was all of those things. We were happy with the event and happy with the performances.”
The meet attracted teams from Boston University, Harvard, Hartford, Vermont and Stonehill.
Sophomore thrower Connor Gosselin (Milford, N.H.) won the javelin with a personal best toss of 184-feet, two-inches. The throw was his first time 0ver 180-feet.
Throwers juniors John Fiorello (Tewksbury, Mass.) and Perry Mroz (Amesbury, Mass.) finished one-two in the shot put. with tosses of 50-feet, 5 1/4-inches and 49-feet, five-inches respectively.
Freshman Kevin Saccone (Mattapoisett, Mass.) won the long jump with a leap of 21-feet, 4 3/4-inches.
Freshman sprinter James O’Brien (Stoneham, Mass.) won the 100-meter dash clocking in at 11.05-seconds.
River Hawks grabbed the first two spots in the 400-meters.
Freshman Ryan Fitzgerald (Lowell, Mass.) won the event in a time of 50.01-seconds. Teammate freshman Hamza Naveed (Andover, Mass.) was right on his heels grabbing second place with a time of 50.37.
UMass Lowell women earned the top four spots in the mile run. Freshman Allie Morris (Walpole, Mass.) was the first across the finish line with a time of five-minutes, 13.29-seconds. Freshman Meghan Cavalier (Billerica, Mass.) was second finishing in a time of 5:19.96. Sophomore Lydia Lyman (Hudson, N.H.) was third in 5:20.63. Junior Jennifer Pisarik filled out the top finishing quartet with a time of 5:21.24.
River Hawks took the top three spots in the shot put and all three topped the 40-foot mark. Sophomore Celeste Pipia (Elmont, N.Y.) won the event with a throw of 41-feet, 7 1/4-inches. Sophomore Samantha Carson (Lowell, Mass.) was second with a personal best throw of 40-feet, 7 1/2-inches. Freshman Jennifer Lee (Woburn, Mass.) heaved the metal ball forty-feet even earning a third place finish.
Junior Sima Suon (Lowell, Mass.) won the javelin with a throw of 118-feet, two-inches.
Sophomore Katherine Equi (North Andover, Mass.) was the first across the finish line in the 400-meter hurdles. The winning time: one-minute, 05.71-seconds.
River Hawk sprinters went one-two-three in the 100-meter dash. Freshman Leyshla Gonzalez (Lowell, Mass.) won the event with a time 12.61-seconds. Junior Aliyah Alley (Wareham, Mass.) was second and freshman Chelsea Owusu (Shrewsbury, Mass.) was third with times of 12.87. Photographic evidence showed Alley hitting the finish line .002-seconds ahead of her teammate.
Owusu followed that with a win in the 200-meters. She finished in a time of 25.48-seconds. Gonzalez was second, 25.70.
Sophomore Jenna Olander (Tolland, Conn.) won the 400-meters in 59.62-seconds.
The River Hawk track and field teams will be back in action next weekend at the Colonial Relays hosted by William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. The meet will run Thursday through Saturday.