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Merrimack Track Posts Banner Day at NE-10 Championships

John Braga Merrimack

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Led by five individual titles and Athlete of the Meet honors for juniorsSarah Barnett (Bridgewater, Mass.) and Carly Muscaro (Ashland, Mass.), the Merrimack College men and women’s track & field teams posted their highest finishes in program history at the Northeast-10 Conference Outdoor Championships this weekend, as the men placed fifth while the women finished third after two days of competition at American International College

The Basics
 Northeast-10 Conference Outdoor Championships 
NE-10 Champions:
 Men: Braga – Decathlon, Robinson – 200m | Women: Barnett – Heptathlon, Muscaro – 200m & 400m
Team Finishes: Men: 5th/11 | Women: 3rd/11
 American International College | Springfield, Massachusetts

How It Happened
Barnett and fellow junior John Braga (North Reading, Mass.) would get the action started for the Warriors on both days of the conference championship, as the heptathlon and decathlon events were the first events run on Friday and Saturday. The pair of juniors would give the Warriors momentum on day one as Barnett and Braga both sat in first after half of their events.

After winning three of four events on Saturday, including a dominating performance in the shot put, beating all competitors by nearly three meters, Barnett was able to easily maintain her lead on Saturday to bring home her first-career NE-10 title in the heptathlon with 4365 points. Two first-place finishes on day one would also help Braga maintain his lead on day two on his way to his third consecutive NE-10 title in the decathlon, posting an NCAA provisionally qualifying score of 6458.

Muscaro displayed some dominating performances on her way to two NE-10 titles in the 200m and 400m events, beginning with breaking her own facility record at AIC in the 200m prelims with a time of 23.76. She went on to break that again in the finals with a time of 23.41, the fastest in the country this season, for her second NCAA automatic qualifier and new NE-10 Championship record. She also improved her Division II-best time in the 400m to 52.09 for her second NE-10 Championship record of the day.

Keeping the momentum rolling from his breakout rookie season, freshman Jacob Robinson (Riverhead, N.Y.) would become the fourth individual NE-10 Champion for Merrimack on the day as he earned his first-career conference crown with a .01-second win in the 200m dash, posting a time of 22.13.

Fellow freshman Michaela Pernell (Naugatuck, Conn.) would fall just short of her first NE-10 title as she finish second in the 100m dash by less than half a second. The women’s 4x100m relay team that featured Pernell with Muscaro, freshman Mariessa Ricciardi (Holden, Mass.) and sophomore Leniesha Williams (Bennington, Vt.) also post a runner-up finish, falling to Southern Connecticut by .08 seconds.

The Warriors found success in the distance races as well, as sophomore Keith Steinbrecher (Wading River, N.Y.) posted a second-place finish in the 3000m steeplechase with a time of 9:24.83. For the women, sophomores Maddie Mercado (Palenville, N.Y.) and Randa Griffin(West Hartford, Conn.) would finish in second and third in the 10000 meter run with times of 39:16.30 and 39:20.51, respectively. Junior Olivia Downey (Melrose, Mass.) would also contribute to the women’s third-place finish with a runner-up performance of her own in the 400m hurdles with a time of 1:01.94.

Up Next
The Warriors will compete in the New England (NEICAAA) Championships on Thursday and Friday, May 12-13 at Southern Connecticut State.

Mike McMahon is in his 13th year covering Merrimack College for The Eagle Tribune and is the founder and managing editor of The Mack Report. Mike also serves on staff as a senior writer at College Hockey News. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcMahonCHN

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