Pat Longobardi, Sports Writer:
This week, the Southern men’s and women’s outdoor track and field teams will show off their championship squads when the Owls hosts the 2011 New England Championships at Jess Dow Field in New Haven from May 12-14.
This will be the first time in school history that Southern will host the championships.
“We are really excited about it,” said Chris Covert, who is in his fourth season as Southern women’s track and field head coach. “It’s our opportunity to showcase our facilities to others in the region who don’t actually see our campus.”
Both teams recently competed in the 2011 Northeast-10 Conference Championships in Lowell, Mass., from May 6-7. The women’s team won its third straight conference championship, while the men won its 18th consecutive conference championship, ninth in the outdoor season.
“We fully expect in the month of May great performances,” said John Wallin, who is in his first season as Southern men’s track and field head coach.
Both Covert and Wallin won Coach of the Year respectively at the meet.
“Being at Southern Connecticut, in New Haven, I think a lot of kids are really excited to show the community what we can do at Southern Connecticut.”
During the New England indoor track and field championships, both the Southern men’s and women’s teams finished in third place respectively.
The Southern women’s team was ranked No. 1 in both the USTFCCCA outdoor rankings and East Regional. The men’s team was ranked No. 19 in the USTFCCCA rankings, and are also No.1 in the East Regional.
During the 2011 Metropolitan Championships in New Brunswick, N.J., the men placed fifth, and the women placed sixth. The Southern women had six athletes win their respective events at the Yale Springtime Invitational on May 1. The men’s team had seven different first place winners.
Southern men’s assistant coach, Mustafa Abdur-Rahim, said that this event is a very big deal, and he is making a challenge to the Southern campus to come out and support the university.
“This is our opportunity to showcase Southern Connecticut,” said Abdur- Rahim. “The band should come out, the step-team should come out. All of the different student groups that have an identity should come out.”
Going into the championships, many are curious about the weather forecast this weekend, with the changing weather conditions on the east coast over the past few months.
Senior pole vaulter, Patrick Waszczak, said the weather has not been great during the season.
“The conditions in New England usually aren’t that great to begin with,” said Waszczak.
“I think once some of the bigger meets roll around, and the pressure is on, that’s when we start to get cooking, and we start really letting things roll.”
During their indoor seasons, Southern track recently sent a combined 17 participants (eight men, nine women) in March to the NCAA Division II indoor track and field championships in Albuquerque, N.M..
Both teams will next look to the 2011 NCAA Division II Championships in Turlock, Calif., from May 26-28.
Covert said this is the time of year the Owls prepare for.
“This is what we train for, this is what we recruit for,” he said. “The sole purpose is for these meets. We hope we are in a good situation to do well at the (New England Championships) and compete for the title.”