This past Friday and Saturday, Mary Washington hosted the annual Battleground Relays, signifying the beginning of the men’s and women’s outdoor track season.
The meet’s two-day format allowed many athletes the chance to compete in additional events that they normally would not participate in at a single-day meet. Several Division-III schools were in attendance as well as Division-I Fordham University.
“The overall level of competition was good, and certainly Fordham brought out some good performances from all of the Division III teams,” head coach Stan Soper said.
On the men’s side, high individual performances came from the 5,000-meter race with sophomore Sean Healy, junior Kyle Anderson and sophomore Quincy Schmidt placing second through fourth, respectively. Healy posted a time of 16:27.38, Anderson ran a 16:40.19, and Schmidt came through the finish with 16:42.99.
In the 3,000-meter steeplechase, junior Chris Marino leapt to third place with a 10:02.50 and freshman Jeff Branson followed with his fourth place time of 10:27.80.
Among the meet’s relays, four UMW relay squads came out on top, each with a top-four finish. The first place finish 4×200 squad comprised of freshman Ben Tuxbury and seniors Tony Rodriguez, Scott Matthiessen and Daniel Piccolo finished with a time of 1:33.37. The 4,000-meter distance medley relay of sophomore Matt Shaughnessy, junior Bobby Tillett, freshman Phil Wahlman and sophomore Scott Plunkett took second with a time of 10:45.93. Meanwhile, in the 4×800 meter relay, junior Daniel Ache, freshman David Justis, Wahlman and Shaughnessy ran a combined time of 8:02.63 to secure third place.
Another impressive finish by a UMW team came from freshman Isaac Hayes, Piccolo, Rodriguez and freshman Dalton Echard. The foursome took fourth place in the 4×100 with a time of 44.62.
The Eagles also had notable field performances at the meet. Senior Matt Gellar placed second in the discus with a distance of 125 feet and five inches. In the triple jump, sophomore Nathaniel Saint-Preux took second with 44 feet and 4.25 inches, while teammate, junior John Lilly, placed fourth with a leap of 41 feet and one inch.
Among the women’s competition, UMW also posted similar wins. In the 5,000-meter run, the Lady Eagles took a second place finish with freshman Elizabeth Green’s time of 18:31.50.
For the relays, Mary Washington finished with top-three wins among six relay events. UMW’s 4×400 team was made up of sophomore Brooke Thompson, freshman Kaytlen Keller, senior Stacy Keser and sophomore Michelle Sutherland. The group took first place with their time of 4:10.69. Meanwhile the 4×200 squad also took first with their 1:50.52 finish, as junior Yun Lee, freshman Jessica Jordan, Keser and Keller led the UMW charge.
Relays that took second place included the 4×100 crew of Lee, Jordan, junior Nicole Ditto and sophomore Ali McClellan, who posted a time of 51.92 seconds. The 4×800 group comprised of freshman Kelsey Carter, Sutherland, and seniors Sarah Dawes and Kristy Witek, blazed through the race with a time of 10.01.85. In addition, the 4,000-meter distance medley relay included Witek, Carter, Dawes and junior Michaela Sands, who ran a time of 13:15.02.
UMW’s 800 meter sprint medley relay consisted of Lee, Ditto, Jordan and Dawes who crossed the finish line with a time of 1:59.37.
For the day’s field events, noteworthy marks were made by UMW triple jumpers Lee, Thompson and Ditto, who placed first through third, respectively. The first place mark by Lee was 35 feet and 10.75 inches. Senior Amanda Zapata took third place in the javelin throw with a distance of 103 feet and eight inches, and Sutherland took fourth in the long jump with a leap of 15 feet and 1.25 inches.
Moving forward from this past weekend, the team is focused on making the most of the warmer weather by continuing on their daily workouts and increasing speed endurance.
Coach Soper is working to keep his healthy athletes on a path of improvement with each meet. Meanwhile, he is also maintaining close attention to nursing his injured back to race ready shape. Every runner and thrower knows that in order to make the best attempt at the Capital Athletic Conference meet this April, they need to be in their best shape and on top of their game.
“I believe if we just keep training hard and stay mentally focused, our efforts will pay off at the CAC Conference Meet,” Green said.
Coach Soper expressed similar optimism for the conference meet.
“The conference this year is much more balanced than ever before,” Soper said. “This year no team or school will dominate as in the past. We hope that we can contend for two conference titles, but certainly there are at least two other schools that can say the same.”
Both track and field teams will see action again this weekend at the VMI-W&L Track and Field Carnival in Lexington, Va.