The stage was set: Zable Stadium was lit up for a rare nighttime running of the Tribe Invitational’s 10,000 meter race, the temperatures had dropped and the runners were ready. The objective was clear to William and Mary’s runners: They needed to finish in less than 30 minutes, 10 seconds.
With 32 seconds remaining before the 30 minute, 10 second deadline, sophomore Josh Hardin crossed the line with plenty of time to spare. Just 23.24 seconds later, junior Alex McGrath joined his teammate.
“The 10k was great,” director of track and field Stephen Walsh said. “Josh Hardin and Alex McGrath got two spectacular races. We set it up to try to run 29:30, 29:40, and that’s what they did. Those times last year got [runners] into the NCAAs, so that was the purpose of it. That was the big marquee race of the weekend.”
Hardin and McGrath’s times came in under the IC4A competition-qualifying standard (30:10), and should secure the duo’s spot in the NCAA regional meet later this spring. Hardin’s run is the fastest recorded 10,000 meter run among all Division I NCAA teams so far this year.
“It was very impressive. He’s training really hard right now. He’s just coming off wining the IC4A championship, which not many people have done,” Walsh said of Hardin’s run.
While the 10,000 meter run took place Friday night, the majority of the Tribe Invitational took place on Saturday. William and Mary competed alongside local teams such as VCU, George Mason, Richmond, The University of the District of Columbia and unaffiliated athletes.
“It was a good meet,” Walsh said. “Its March, we’re just opening up, and a lot of this is just getting the kinks out and getting on the 400m track for the first time. We had some good performances, a lot of guys are working hard right now, the training is very high, we’re just trying to get things started.”
Junior Katie Buenaga led the way for the women in the 1500-meter race, finishing in 4:36.94. Junior Michelle Britto came in third at 4:38.45, while senior Avery Mattingly finished fifth at 4:45.36 for the Tribe.
In the men’s 1500-meter race, sophomore David Gunnerson crossed the line at 3:58.17 for the win. Freshman Ian MacFawn finished in 4:03.03 for fourth place. Other highlights included junior Ben Katz winning the long jump with a 6.96-meter jump while redshirted senior Natalie Baird won the discus throw with a 45.47 meter toss.
The men’s 100-meter dash provided some entertainment, as unaffiliated William and Mary alum McAulay won the race in 11.06 seconds, followed closely by freshman Michael Monti and Katz, 11.52 and 11.54, respectively.
As rain began to pour, proceedings paused for roughly twenty minutes to let the heaviest rain pass. Coming out of the delay, officials decided to cancel the remaining events and only run the men’s 3000-meter race.
While two unaffiliated runners finished first and second, a pack of Tribe runners rounded out the top six. Junior Zach Tennant finished first for the Tribe, in 9:29.90.
“We were told a pace to keep, so we just kept our pace and kept working together, and then afterwards we actually kept on going and added some more on and used it as a workout to build on our fitness for next week,” Tennant said.
The weather hampered the ability of some athletes to start their spring season on a strong finish. By the time the Colonial Relays come to Zable, however, Walsh expects the entire team to be ready to participate.