CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – After finishing third at the America East Indoor Championships, the UMBC women's track and field team has been picked to finish in the same spot for the outdoor season, the conference office announced on Wednesday. The men's team was also tabbed to place in the same spot as its indoor finish, fifth.
Albany, the men's indoor conference champions and Boston University, the women's champion, were tabbed to win the outdoor titles.
"The preseason poll is obviously a reflection of our performance indoors," said head coach David Bobb. "Hopefully we can continue our success from the indoor season as we move outdoor.
Much of the women's success will depend on two athletes who put the conference on notice by picking up America East awards back in February.
In Boston, junior Amanda Deller (Abeerdeen, Md./Aberdeen) won both the shot put and weight throw, on her way to earning the title of Most Outstanding Female Field Performer. In the outdoor throwing events, Deller already ranks among the top-10 in school history in each of the four events. She is second in the discus throw (41.74m (136'11") and third in the shot put (14.45m (47'5") while placing fourth and tenth, respectively, in the hammer (41.03m (134'7") and the javelin (24.74m (81'2").
On the track, freshman sensation Mercedes Jackson (Huntingtown, Md./Huntingtown) will look to impress once again. At the America East Championships, the rookie sprinter was named the Most Outstanding Female Rookie after breaking her own school record, and breaking the facility record, en route to claiming a gold medal in the 60m dash in a time of 7.49. She also won a silver medal in the 200m dash, setting a new UMBC standard again, with a time of 24.00.
"Hopefully, Mercedes can continue her great freshman season," coach Bobb said. "She's helped out our team and will continue to in the outdoor season."
Bobb does not believe, however, that the team's success will ride solely on Deller and Jackson. In the long sprints, sophomore Deborah Adelola (Lanham, Md./Bladensburg) in addition to freshmen Kirsten Jones (Brentwood, Tenn./M.L.K. Magnet) and Kalane' Abbey (Laurel, Md./Laurel) will bolster the Retrievers' lineup. Freshman Blossom Metevier (Washington Township, Mich./Eisenhower), who did not compete during the indoor season due to injury, should add some speed as well.
Abbey will also compete in the short hurdles while junior Ashley Ajayi (Bowie, Md./Elizabeth Seton) and freshman Paulette Fogle (Washington, D.C./Bishop McNamara) will compete in the longer course hurdle events.
Sophomore Cody Mezebish (Westminster, Md./South Carroll), who places second in the 800m run on UMBC's indoor list, will lead the Retriever distance runners.
As for the women, coach Bobb looks for an all-around team effort to lead the men, who look to improve on their fourth place finish in 2011.
The Retrievers will look to a strong and deep throwing squad to earn points. Senior Aaron Brooks (Upper Marlboro, Md./DeMatha), already ranks in the school's top-10 for the shot put (2nd) and discus (3rd), and will try to improve upon the bronze medals he won in both events last year. Brooks will be joined in the throwing events by junior Cameron McDearmon (Owings Mills, Md./Franklin) and sophomore Chris Nash (Parkton, Md./Hereford) who both had strong indoor campaigns.
Junior Sean Cooper (Waldorf, Md./North Point/Delaware State) will lead a group of sprinters which also includes classmate Pat Balderson (Mount Airy, Md./Linganore) and sophomore Kyle Baker (Bowie, Md./Archbishop Spalding).
America East All-Academic Team selection Andrew Smith (Chadds Ford, Pa./Garnet Valley) will lead the distance runners after finishing fourth in the 800m run at the indoor championships.
In the jumps, junior Shioma Obemeata (New Rochelle, N.Y./Iona Preparatory/St. Francis College) and sophomore Mo Drammeh (Frederick, Md./Thomas Johnson) will both try to best their marks of sixth in UMBC's record book in the high jump and triple jump, respectively.
UMBC officially kicks off the spring season this Friday, Mar. 23 at the Weems Baskin Invitational in Columbia, S.C. The two-day, 28-team meet will be held at Weems Baskin Track Facility on the campus of the University of South Carolina.