BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – An historic season for the Massachusetts Maritime Academy track and field team came to an end at the New England Alliance and MASCAC Championships with three more records broken, led by rookie sensation Colin McCabe who broke a mark in his fifth-straight event. Sprinter Meaghan Hamilton set a Buccaneer best and the 4x800 meter men's relay team also etched their name in the record book.
McCabe has been a season-long tour-de-force for Head Coach Cathy Lohse. The freshman broke the Academy record in the shot put in the first meet of his career and then spent the next two events improving on that figure. An excellent performance in his third event fell short, for the first time, of a record, but McCabe instead settled for the ECSU Invitational meet record instead.
That set the stakes high at the conference championship and, after having met Zach Poh, the previous Buc record-holder in the shot put, McCabe did not disappoint. In the first round, his three shots travelled 15.01m, 15.07m, and 14.91m, tops among MASCAC performers and all more than a meter more than any previous Buccaneer had put.
Finding a little more strength inside for the final round, the Dartmouth, Mass. native put his shot at 15.10m and 15.11m in his first two heats. With the conference title at stake, McCabe fired 15.49 meters to set a new Academy record for the fourth time this season.
Worcester State's Elmer Acuña, who had been just behind McCabe in the qualifying round, stepped in the second, tying McCabe with his first attempt in the finals before putting at 15.26 and 15.65 meters to take the MASCAC title as McCabe settled for silver. The thrower also was listed on the MASCAC Weekly Honor Roll.
UMass-Dartmouth's Jared Louf-Woods, the only thrower to defeat McCabe in previous events, won the meet with a whopping 16.81 meter shot that broke a twenty-year old Little East Conference Championship record.
"Colin McCabe was a treat to have on our team this year," remarked Head Coach Cathy Lohse. "He is a very humble young man who works hard. It was incredible watching him compete at the MASCAC/ALLIANCE meet.
"Although Worcester edged him out of the MASCAC title and medal, Colin's response was priceless. He said, 'That's okay, I still have next week. The competition was great, I haven't had that kind of competition in a long time'.
"Colin loved the intense round of the finals. Everyone did. What was great was having the former record holder, Zach Poh there to watch the competition. Zach was impressed with Colin's performance."
Hamilton had already claimed a Maritime record earlier in the day, running the 400 meter intermediate hurdles at 1.12.31. Only a sophomore, Hamilton finished fifth, but was less than five seconds away from taking home a bronze. Her finish earned her a place on the MASCAC Weekly Honor Roll and bested teammate Michelle Sheehan's 2017 record of 1:16.44. Sheehan also competed in the event and ran her personal best time, finishing fifth at 1:13.41. Christine Murray was the only other women's representative, as the freshman competed in the discus throw.
"Michelle Sheehan thought she ran a slow 400 meter intermediate hurdle race until she heard me say her time of 73 seconds, which was 3 seconds faster than her best," noted Lohse. "Although she broke her own school record, her teammate Meaghan Hamilton, who decided to give the hurdles a try toward the end of the season, ran a 72 second race to break Michelle's record.
"Michelle was very happy to see Meaghan break her record and even commented saying, "she's 2 seconds away from qualifying for New England's".
The final mark set on the day came in a third-place finish in the men's 4x800 meter relay team of Ryan Burns, Alex Imperillo, Ryan Welsh, and Chris MacKay. The quartet teamed up for a 8:55.52 race and bronze in the MASCAC. That result was the first in Academy history of less than nine minutes, topping a six-year old 9:02.53 time.
"Our steeplechase guys all ran well, but the distance race of the day was the 4x800 relay," observed the team's coach. "The team of Ryan Burns, Alex Imperillo, Ryan Welsh, and Chris MacKay had a goal of breaking the school record, something Chris wanted to do for 4 years.
"[The first three] did not have an individual event prior to the relay, but MacKay anchored the relay. He listened to every split and knew in his head what he needed to do to make sure the record was broken. Chris took Fitchburg at the finish line with the record breaking time of 8:55 52."
A total of 14 male athletes competed for MMA, with Mitchell Conroy's 38.4 meter discus throw enough for fifth place out of 14 competitors. Both the men and women finished fifth out of five MASCAC teams.
"Despite the major hurdles (pun intended) that we faced throughout the season (meet cancellations, trying to get into meets, weather, lack of Bourne track use, and of course the athletes busy academic schedules), our athletes never stopped working hard," explained Lohse. "Athletes stepped up when family issues and the unfortunate death of Officer Gannon came up. They never for one moment missed a beat.
"Our captains, Chris MacKay, Joe Eastman, Mitch Conroy, Cal Garufo, and Michelle Sheehan were a huge asset to the coaches and their teammates. With the diverse workouts that we provide for our athletes, their performance reflect how well they trained. Ironically, with the way the schedule worked due to the aforementioned [difficulties], we only had two full weeks of practice; our first week and our last week."
Next week are the New England Division-III Outdoor Championships, at which McCabe will represent the Academy. Make sure to bookmark www.mmabucs.com for more on track and field at MMA and get the inside scoop on Facebook and Twitter @mmabuccaneers. Plus, check out our new Instagram @massmaritimebuccaneers.
Gabriel Fidler, Sports Information Associate