It could be that nobody is happier to see the spring weather descend on Williamsburg than track and field head coach Stephen Walsh.
William and Mary opened its 2011 outdoor season in winning fashion as the team earned seven qualifications in the Tribe Open this past weekend. The meet hosted competition from eight other schools including Yale, Virginia Commonwealth, Richmond and Norfolk State.
“Across the board it was a very good weekend,” head coach Stephen Walsh said. “We are very excited. There are a lot of positives going on right now.”
The men’s team was led by senior Chris McIntosh, whose time of 52.99 seconds in the 400-meter hurdles was good for a personal record and his first IC4A qualification. His run was also the seventh best in school history.
“I wasn’t sure about the time until after. I was pretty surprised when I looked up at the scoreboard,” McIntosh said. “I wasn’t expecting to run that fast at the first meet so I was definitely happy with that.”
Sophomore Alex McGrath and the rest of the Tribe continued to dominate the 3,000-meter run, setting a stadium record of 8:17.53. The College swept the top six positions in the run.
“The guys 3K ran very well, considering it was windy conditions, so at times they couldn’t be as quick,” Walsh said. “It was a good effort.”
The meet kicked off Friday with the hammer throw, which was won by senior Zach Jordan, who earned a qualification and won the event by scoring a 54.01-meter throw.
The women’s team added two qualifications of their own. Freshman Kathleen Lautzenheiser finished second in the 1,500-meter run with a time of 4:30.31, and classmate Elaina Balouris took fifth, crossing two seconds later.
“[Kathleen and Elaina] ran well — and I think they are capable of running much quicker with the time and the training and the races,” Walsh said.
A pair of freshman pole vaulters, Nicole Dory and Austyn Rapp, took third and fourth respectively after each clearing the bar at 3.4 meters.
Junior Sara Lasker added a personal-best time of 10:14.3 in the 3,000-meter run.
Most of the team will compete in the Richmond Spider Invitational next week before returning to Williamsburg for the Colonial Relays in April. Walsh hopes that as the bigger meets come, his players’ times will continue to drop.
“It’s an early meet — probably the earliest you can have a meet for outdoors so it’s good to get off to a good start,” Walsh said. “Every two weeks there is a big, major meet coming up now.”
But for qualifiers like McIntosh, the stress of earning a spot in the conference championships has passed.
“It also relieves a lot of the pressure to qualify so I can focus more on training and peaking later on this season in the conference meet,” McIntosh said.