BALTIMORE – For the second consecutive year, the UMBC track and field team starts its outdoor campaign at the FSU Relays in Tallahassee, Fla. The two-day meet in the Sunshine State capital will begin on Friday, March 21 at Florida State's Mike Long Track.
UMBC is coming off of yet another successful indoor season after senior Andrew Smith (Chadds Ford, Pa./Garnet Valley) advanced to the NCAA Championships and earned a spot on the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) All-America Second Team in the 800m run. Smith is the sixth Retriever in program history to reach the national meet and gave UMBC a representative at each of the last three NCAA competitions.
Smith will open his spring season immediately in Florida by racing in the 1,500m run before returning home for the Big Dawg Invitational at UMBC Stadium next weekend.
Junior sprinter Mercedes Jackson (Huntingtown, Md./Huntingtown) begins her outdoor season in Florida after just missing out on her third consecutive NCAA Championship meet. Jackson successfully defended her two gold medals in the 60m and 200m dash events at the America East Indoor Championships, but her season-best 60m time of 7.41 was just outside of making the national meet. Last spring, Jackson swept the 100m and 200m dash events at the conference meet and advanced to the NCAA competition at Oregon where she placed 23rd in the 60m event to earn All-America status. This weekend at FSU, the junior will take to the track in both the 100m and 200m sprint events.
Sophomore Vincent Rentzsch (Oranienburg, Germany/Elite Sportschule Potsdam) also reached the NCAA stage last spring in Oregon, advancing in the javelin after breaking the school record four times during the outdoor season. He snapped the mark originally at this same meet in Tallahassee last year with a throw of 58.83m (193'0") and then set it at 70.88m (232'6") in his last throw of the NCAA East Preliminary to reach the national meet. A versatile athlete, Rentzsch will compete in the javelin, as well as the shot put and discus in the Florida state capital.
The Retriever men's team welcomes back several key athletes from last year's team, which finished second at the America East Championships. Sprinter Dennison Long (Greenbelt, Md./Eleanor Roosevelt/FIU) returns to competition for UMBC after taking the conference by storm last spring. Now a senior, Long won the 100m and 200m dash events at last year's America East meet and advanced to the NCAA East Prelims for the 100m event. He will hit the track for both events this weekend.
Classmate Trae Proctor (Brandywine, Md./Thomas Stone) also returns for the Retrievers, a year after setting the school record in the 110m hurdles (14.12) and then winning the conference title. He will run in the 110m and 400m hurdle events in Florida.
Senior field athletes Yao Adantor (Laurel, Md./Reservoir/Morgan St./Maryland) and Shioma Obemeata (New Rochelle, N.Y./Iona Prep/St. Francis) also compete for the first time this season for the Retrievers. Adantor, who set the school record in the shot put last season (16.60m; 54'5.50"), will compete in the shot, discus, and hammer this weekend, while Obemeata, who last competed outdoors in 2012, heads south for the high jump and triple jump events.
For the women, America East indoor champion and indoor school record holder Alisha Beeman (Bridgeport, Conn./Bunnell/Hartford) starts her outdoor season in Florida in the high jump, long jump, and javelin. Beeman broke the school mark in the indoor high jump twice, clearing 1.74m (5'8.5") to win the gold medal at the conference meet.
Distance athlete Cody Mezebish (Westminster, Md./South Carroll) looks to continue her record-breaking senior season when she opens the spring season in Tallahassee. Mezebish led the UMBC cross country team to its best-ever finish at the America East Championships in the fall, and then took a silver medal in the 800m run at the conference indoor meet with a school record time (2:12.41). She then improved her time further to 2:11.81 at the ECAC Championships in Boston. Mezebish will run the 1,500m event in Florida.