UMass Lowell Track & FIeld
Woburn Native Throws School-Record 50’ 8.25’’; Becomes UMass Lowell’s Third-Ever Female Track & Field NCAA Champion

CHARLOTTE, NC (May 29, 2010) – Senior Jacqui Barrett (Woburn, MA), who owned the top throw in the shot put virtually all season, made it official Saturday afternoon at the NCAA Division II Track and Field Championship at Johnson C. Smith’s Irwin Belk Complex.

Saving her best career throw for her last college competition, Barrett threw 50 feet, 8.25 inches on her second attempt – marking the first-ever time she eclipsed 50 feet – to win the national championship.

“After my first throw, I knew it was solid enough to get me to the final,” said Barrett. “I had it in my head that I was already there and I just needed to put it together. When I threw 50’, I knew that it was either going to be good for first or second. I knew how the other women could throw. But no one wanted this more than I did.”

Barrett becomes the women’s track and field program’s third-ever national champion and second titlist in four years, joining former distance runner Nicole Plante, who won the 10,000 meters in 2007; and Jane Servi, who captured the high jump at the 1988 NCAA indoor championship.

“All I wanted from her was 50 feet and I got a lot more than that,” said UMass Lowell’s throws coach Barbara Smith, who has coached three UMass Lowell athletes who finished runners-up: Heather Oldham in 2003, Enjoli Edwards in 2006 and Barrett at the 2010 indoors.

“Jacqui came into this meet much different,” Smith added. “She walked in like she belonged here. She was unbelievable. She has so much confidence. The meet has been tough because there was delay after delay on Friday, and you wonder how that is going to affect her.”

The shot put was originally scheduled for Friday night at 7:30, but most of Friday’s events were postponed to Saturday due to a series of lightning and rain delays.

Barrett, whose personal best throw was 49’ 11.75’’ achieved at Princeton University’s Larry Ellis Invitational on Apr. 17, opened the competition with a sterling effort of 49’ 3.0’’ and followed with the clinching distance of 50’ 8.25’’ on her next throw.

“When I threw it, I saw where I landed and I knew it was 50 feet, but exactly how far, I didn’t know,” Barrett noted. “I asked the officials if I could cross the track and I gave Barbara a huge hug. I knew Kelly Ash (of Ashland University, the runner-up) had to beat me on her last throw, but I had one more attempt after her. I don’t even remember my last throw.”

Barrett followed with distances of 49’ 1.0’’, 43’ 7.5’’, 46’ 6.0’’ and 47’ 6.0’’.

“When she threw 49’ 3.0 to open the series, she came out of the circle and you could see a little swagger, as if she was saying ‘I’m on today,’” said UMass Lowell Head Coach Gary Gardner. “Then she threw a bomb on her second attempt. She was really on a roll there.”

Ash, who won the 2010 indoor championship in March, was the runner-up with a throw of 49’ 11.25’’.

The title is especially meaningful following Barrett’s showing at the NCAA indoors, when she held the top spot with a toss of 49’ 4.25 until Ash won it with the final throw of the competition, 51’ 1.0’’.

Barrett’s progress this season is all the more remarkable considering she finished 15th at the NCAA Championship a year ago with a distance of 43’ 5.0, her first NCAA appearance.

“I think it’s my confidence, just growing up and being more mature,” Barrett said. “I decided to be more positive this year. From day one I just put everything into practice. I’m here for a reason.”

Added Gardner: “I think getting into and doing well in a lot of big meets has been a huge difference this year. She’s at a level where even on a bad day, she could end up an All-American.”

Lost in Barrett’s monumental day was the fact that she edged the school record –previously 50’ 8.0’’ by Oldham in 2003 – by a quarter inch.

UMass Lowell continues on tonight as senior Doug Caves (Oxford, MA) runs the 400 meter dash final at 7:04 p.m., followed by senior Haley Catarius (Marshfield, MA) in the 800 meters at 7:47.

Graduate Ruben Sanca (Boston, MA), who earned All-American honors Thursday in the 10,000 meters, runs the 5,000 meters at 9:09 while Catarius and the UMass Lowell 4X400 meter relay team – sophomores Nicole Giaquinto (Winthrop, MA) and Amy Delgado (Bridgewater, MA), freshman Shannon Cunningham (Foxboro, MA)and senior alternate Heather McCarthy (Burlington, MA) – competes at 9:36.