By David Konowitch, news correspondent

The Northeastern track and field team put together a strong weekend with eight first-place finishes en route to a women’s victory and a men’s second place finish at the Yellow Jacket Invitational hosted by American International College in Springfield.

The team was originally slated to split up and send some athletes to University of New Hampshire to compete, but Director of Track and Field Cathrine Erickson decided “to keep our group together as a team this weekend,” and compete in Springfield alone.

The decision paid off, as the women took the top spot in a dominant performance with 148 points, besting runner-up University of Vermont (UVM) by 58 points. The men posted 135.5 points, falling just short of UVM which posted 138 points.

“It is always great to come home with a win,” Erickson said in an email to The News. “Most importantly, we are getting valuable work done each weekend as we prepare for the championship season.”

The Huskies had eight different athletes take home the top spot in their events. The women compiled six of the top finishes, while both sides used their depth to boost their point totals.

Sophomore distance runner Kate Johnstone led the way with a win in the 1,500-meter run in 4:37.05, and added a second-place finish in the 800-meter race at 2:17.66.

Junior sprinter Camille Gooden won the 400-meter hurdles in 1:04.31 and was followed shortly after by teammate freshman Kelsey Sullivan, who placed third in 1:06.55.

Sophomore distance runner Jordan O’Dea led an impressive performance in the 5,000-meter run, in which three Huskies placed at the top. O’Dea finished first with a time of 17:15.79, followed by freshman distance runner Kerri Ruffo and redshirt senior distance runner Danielle Klein with times of 17:32.69 and 17:53.97, respectively.

The performance by the distance group caught the eye of Erickson.

“We are most always pleased with the distance group,” Erickson said. “They are constantly showing their strength when they get on the track and run in either rain, snow or windy conditions. [It] just shows how hearty our group is as a whole.”

Off the track, the victories continued for NU as junior vaulter Jacilyn Briggs won the pole vault, clearing 3.65 meters.

Junior throwers Alexandra Rose and Jenna Serunian excelled in their respective events and continued the throwers’ strong start to the season. Serunian won the discus, tossing 38.84 meters, and added a second-place heave in the shot put at 12.60 meters. Rose won the hammer throw at 50.69 meters and followed up with a third-place fling in the discus.

The men, highlighted by two first-place finishes, also added numerous second- and third-place finishes.

Freshman hurdler Nick Fofana won the 110-meter hurdles in 15.09 seconds. Teammates freshman Matthew Richards and sophomore Connor McCarthy finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

Sophomore sprinter Anthony Pavlich had a strong showing, posting a third-place finish in the 400-meter dash at 51.16 seconds and a seventh-place finish in the 200-meter dash at 22.56 seconds.

Senior sprinter Jared Lane battled to a third-place finish in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 56.58.

NU distance runners had a solid group performance in the 10,000-meter run, headed by senior Charles Conway’s thid-place finish at 32:54.96. Sophomores Craig Hammond and Patrick Cunningham added sixth- and eighth-place finishes, respectively.

Off the track, the throwers again headlined the Huskies’ performances, continuing to show their depth as a group. NU had seven top-four finishes in four field events.

The Huskies battled each other in the shot put. Redshirt senior Kevin Rosenberg was the best among NU, tossing 15.83 meters for second place. He was followed by freshman Ryan Kim’s third-place showing at 15.63 meters and freshman Eric Mellusi, who earned fourth with a throw of 14.80 meters.

Kim also added another third-place finish in the discus at 43.43 meters.

Redshirt senior James Hall picked up the lone win for the throwers in the hammer throw with a heave of 57.74 meters. Freshman Connor Fugere tossed the hammer 51.45 meters, which earned him fourth place.

Sophomore jumper Chris Manning closed out the events by placing second in the high jump, clearing the bar at 1.78 meters.

“As a coaching staff, our goal is to develop depth in every event of our team,” Erickson said.  “We are getting closer to accomplishing this across the board.”

NU continues its season with a trip to Amherst on Saturday, April 11 for the University of Massachusetts Invitational.

Photo by Steve Lipofsky, courtesy Northeastern Athletics