COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The Maryland track and field program is days away from getting its indoor season underway, with the men's and women's squads primed for a big year on the track. Back to lead the Terps in his 14th season at the helm is head coach Andrew Valmon, who is as excited as ever to get the 2017 season underway.
"We have a strong group of seniors who will lead by example for our newcomers,” said Valmon. “I am counting on performances from our key returners as well as some surprises across the board as we step up our level of competition. Everyone has a strong base under them from fall conditioning and now it's time to get results."
The Terps are slated to compete for the first time this year this Friday, January 6 at the Wagner Indoor Invitational in Staten Island, N.Y.
Headlining the women’s squad is senior Olympian Micha Powell, five months removed from an appearance at the 2016 Rio games as a member of team Canada. Powell emerged as a standout performer on the track for Maryland last season, qualifying for the NCAA Championships in both the indoor and outdoor seasons in the 400 meter run.
Powelll earned second team All-America honors a season ago on the indoor circuit, setting a new indoor school record in the 400 (52.56) with a third place finish at the Big Ten Championships. She then outran her No. 16 seed at NCAAs securing a 12th place finish, and eventually went on to earn a spot as a member of the 4x400 relay squad for Canada’s Olympic track and field team.
Fellow senior Lisa Meneau will also be a factor in the sprints, hurdles, and relay events for the Terps this season. Meneau qualified for the NCAA East Regionals last year on the outdoor track in the 400m hurdles, and will look to make a splash in the 60m hurdles and relays in indoor completion this season. Alexandra Cimino and Taylor Tucker are also looking to make an impact in the longer sprints and relays during their senior season. Cimino focused mostly on longer sprints for the Terps, running both the 600 and distance medley relay at the last year’s B1G Indoor Championships. Tucker will be in the mix for the Terps, helping the 4x400 relay team (Meneau, Tucker, Voelpel & Powell) to a fifth place finish at the Big Ten Championships.
Catherine Voelpel was just shy of qualifying for the Big Ten finals in the 600m indoor event last season and looks to cap off her senior year with a steady effort in this event as well as the relays. Fellow senior, Rachelle Alexander will also look to offer range from the 600m to the middle distance events.
Junior Alexandra Lucki will be a key factor in both the 800m and 1500m middle distance events this season. Lucki finished as an All-Mid Atlantic cross country selection after taking 18th at the regional championship meet in November. Lucki earned her first bid to the NCAA Championships last outdoor season in the 1500, outrunning her No. 44 seed at the NCAA Regionals to eventually finish 12th (4:20.90). Lucki ran several different distance events last year, including the mile where she placed seventh in the Big Ten.
In the distance events, seniors Sydney Almeida, Alexa Squirini, Charde' Barnes, and Karah O'Halloran will attempt to parlay momentum from the cross country season on to the track in 2017. Almeida and O'Halloran will focus on the longer events from 3k-5k, while Squirini and Barnes will range from the 800m-3000m. Squirini will look to take her strength from the cross country season and tack this onto a solid track season from 2016 to finish her career as a reliable team contributor.
Freshman Kathryn Gearhart put together an impressive freshman season for the Terps on the cross country course, finishing as the team’s No. 1 runner in three different races and will look to put together some performances on the track as well this year.
In field events, two-time NCAA East Regional qualifier junior Peyton Wade will look to further improve in the high jump and combined events for UMD. Wade has twice taken fifth in the pentathlon at the B1G Indoor Championships, and jumped a season-best 5’10.5” last year at the event. Freshman, Dallyssa Huggins will also work into the multi-events with the high jump being one of her stronger events along with Wade.
Junior, Kayla Richardson placed 8th in the Triple Jump at the Big Ten Indoor Championships last season and 10th in the Long Jump. With experience under her belt she will lead the way on the runway this year.
Claudia Ababio, also a junior, will make her mark in the throwing events this season with a focus on the indoor shot put and weight throw.
The men’s squad will continue to build during the indoor season led by its seniors Brandon Thompson, Paul Joseph, Dahri Jahn-Richardson and Tom Hogarty. Thompson was a 2016 NCAA East Regional qualifier in the 200m during the outdoor season, and ran the 60, 200 and 4x400 relay for the Terps last season.
Jahn-Richardson and Joseph will be factors for the Terps in the relay events and longer sprints, while Hogarty will again pace the Terps in the distance events.
Junior, Alex Leto also posted some of the Terps top times last season in the 400m and was a steady factor on the 4x400m relay. Sophomore, TJ Bleichner excelled in events ranging from the 400m up to the 800m.
Louis Corgliano will be a name to watch in the distance events with his strengths coming from the 3000m-5000m events.
The Terps have also added several newcomers to the squad ranging from transfer athletes to incoming freshmen that will look to make an impact in events across the board from the field onto the track.
The Terps will ring in the New Year this Friday, January 6 at the Wagner Indoor Invitational in Staten Island, N.Y. Maryland will then make the trip up to State College, Pa. for the Nittany Lion Challenge on January 14 before hosting the annual Terrapin Invitational on January 21 at the Prince George’s Sports Complex.
Maryland will be split between the Penn State National Open (Jan. 27) and Navy Wesley Brown Invitational (Jan. 28) to end the month of January, before another split weekend at the New York Armory Collegiate Meet (Feb. 3) and Husker Invitational (Feb. 4). UMD will wrap up its regular indoor season February 10-11 at the Spire Invite in Geneva, Ohio, then will head back to the Spire Institute for the Big Ten Indoor Championships February 24-26.
This year’s NCAA Indoor Championships will be held March 9-11 in College Station, Texas.