BALTIMORE – A quartet of UMBC track and field athletes head back to the Sunshine State this weekend to represent the Retrievers at the 2014 NCAA East Preliminaries at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. The meet, which will be held at UNF's Hodges Stadium, will begin on Thursday, May 29 with the javelin competition, and run through Saturday evening.
The top-12 finishers in each event will earn an automatic bid to the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore. which will be held on June 11-14.
Sophomore Vincent Rentzsch (Oranienburg, Germany/Elite Sportschule Potsdam) will compete in the opening event, trying to make it back to Oregon for the NCAA Championships for the second straight year. Last year at the prelims meet at North Carolina A&T, Rentzsch saved his best for last, recording a school record toss of 70.88m (232'6) in his final throw to finish fifth and book a trip west where he finished 21st in the nation. The sophomore has rested over the past month, but his top season throw of 66.09m (216'10") at the season-opening FSU Relays in Tallahassee earned him a spot at the regional meet.
Two-time America East Most Outstanding Male Track Athlete Dennison Long (Greenbelt, Md./Eleanor Roosevelt/FIU) makes the trip south to compete in the 100m and 200m sprint events. The senior swept the sprint competitions at the 2014 America East Outdoor Track and Field Championships, and then took the top prize in the 100m event at the IC4A Championships at Princeton less than two weeks ago. Long has recorded career-best times in both events this season to jump up to second in the UMBC record book, trailing only head coach David Bobb. He ranks 26th in the 100m dash (10.36) and 27th in the 200m dash (20.86) in the East Region going into the weekend meet.
Classmates Trae Proctor (Brandywine, Md./Thomas Stone) and Andrew Smith (Chadds Ford, Pa./Garnet Valley) also head to Florida to represent the Black and Gold and will compete in the 110m hurdles and 800m run, respectively. Both won their event at the America East meet, with Smith going on to win the 800m at the IC4As, and both enter the weekend in the top-20 in the region.
Smith is attempting to become the fourth Retriever athlete in program history to reach the indoor and outdoor NCAA Championships in the same season. He competed in the 800m run at the indoor meet in New Mexico back in March and is now looking for another trip to the national stage. He has broken the UMBC school record three times this spring, including during the prelims at the IC4A Championships, and sits 19th in the east with his top time of 1:48.72.
Long currently ranks 17th in the region in the short hurdle event after breaking his own school record at the Mason Spring Invitational in April with a time of 13.88. He successfully defended his conference championship in the event at Vermont in early May by breaking the America East record in both the prelims (14.06) and finals (14.01). He placed fourth in the event at the IC4A meet.