NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Looking to finish eighth or better for the second time in three years, the Merrimack women's track & field team will take on the best of the Northeast-10 Conference at the NE-10 Championships on the campus of AIC this weekend.
Pegged to replicate last year's ninth-place performance in the 11-team field according to the event's Pre-Championship Poll, the Warriors will instead aim to emulate the efforts from their 2011 campaign that saw them finish in eighth at the league's championship events during the program's inaugural outdoor season.
Earning 27 points in the poll, the Warriors were predicted to finish ahead of 10th-place Franklin Pierce (25) and 11th-place Assumption (13). UMass Lowell, meanwhile, was a unanimous pre-championship favorite, taking 10 first-place votes for 100 points. The River Hawks won last year's outdoor title as well as the indoor title two months ago.
Finishing second to the UMass Lowell women was AIC, which received 82 points and the only other first-place nod. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team in the poll. Stonehill finished third with 79 points, while New Haven and Southern Connecticut tied for fourth with 70 points apiece.
Moving out of the top-five, Adelphi (51) and Bentley (46) were pegged to finish in sixth and seventh, respectively, while Saint Rose (42) earned the last remaining spot ahead of Merrimack in eighth place.
As has been the case all spring long, the bulk of Merrimack's success should stem from the phenomenal efforts of first-year sophomore sprinter Noelia Figuereo (Haverhill, Mass.). Named the 2012-13 Female Rookie of the Year at the Merrimack LEAD Awards two weeks ago, Figuereo has torn up the short-distance sprint events this spring, taking home four first-place finishes in the 100m as well as a pair of titles in the 200m dash, as well.
At high jump, junior Jackie Jones (Amherst, N.H.) will look to anchor the Warriors after posting a second-place finish earlier this spring; the Granite State native also placed 10th in the shot put most recently at the Stonehill Invitational.
Anchoring the 3000m Steeplechase will be sophomore Kelsey Grimmer (Shelton, Conn.), who nearly won the event earlier this spring. Joining her in middle distance will be junior Briana Devereaux (Londonderry, N.H.), who has been brilliant in middle distance and long distance this outdoor season, including a victory in the 1500m event at the Greyhound Invitational.
2013 Northeast-10 Women's Outdoor Track & Field Pre-Championship Poll
1. UMass Lowell (10) – 100
2. American Int'l (1) – 82
3. Stonehill – 79
T4. New Haven – 70
T4. So. Connecticut – 70
6. Adelphi – 51
7. Bentley – 46
8. Saint Rose – 42
9. Merrimack – 27
10. Franklin Pierce – 25
11. Assumption – 13
( ) – first-place votes