Despite coordinating a 15-team meet at Zable Stadium and the Stimson Throwing Events Area in William and Mary’s first outdoor meet of the year, the Tribe Invitational, director of track and field Stephen Walsh’s attention will be split between Williamsburg, Virginia and Bydgoszcz, Poland.
While the rest of the College competes in Williamsburg, freshman long distance runner Emily Stites will lead the junior women of Team USA at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships overseas.
“Emily is over in Poland right now, we’re going to be focusing our attention on both sides and hope Emily can go over and represent the world,” Walsh said. “That’s going to be very exciting. We got people in Poland and people here.”
“It’s a great opportunity for someone of her caliber to go over there and run against the nation’s best and see what she can do,” Walsh said.
Stateside, Walsh expects the weekend meet will help the College jump-start the outdoor track and field season.
“Expectations over the weekend — just to get the outdoor season kicked off. This is the first outdoors meet for us,” Walsh said. “We’ve been training and finished up the indoor season and now we’re going to be opening up some kids … this is to get the rust off.”
The Tribe Invitational hosts 15 collegiate programs as well as individual entrants. Each event will showcase different levels of experience and talent. For Tribe athletes, the extent of competition depends on the particular athlete’s goals for the season.
“We’ll have multiple different layers of competition out there, so everyone is going to be trying to do something different. Some are running two or three events and training through this, for some people this might be their outdoor meet to try and make the squad to go to the conference meet,” Walsh said. “The farther they’re going in the season, the more this is a type of workout meet.”
The three-day meet kicks off Friday with the hammer throw and 10,000 meter run. Walsh expects strong competition from the Stimson Throwing Events Area. Senior Natalie Baird highlights the Tribe’s field squad, looking to perform well in both the hammer toss and discus throw.
“They’ve been working very hard over there. A couple of those guys are coming into their marquee meet,” Walsh said. “We’re really looking for them to open up and get the outdoor season going.”
Outside the throwing area, Zable will host everything from hurdles to pole vault to distance events. The Tribe will look to use the competition as a means to set benchmarks for the remainder of the outdoor season, all the while keeping an ear open for news from Poland.
“Besides the William and Mary athletes, there’s going to be some pretty good athletes coming here this weekend, so it’ll be a great meet to come over and see the nation’s best go at it,” Walsh said.
The events begin early this afternoon with the hammer toss, followed by the 10,000 meter run later that evening. Barring any weather delay, the meet will continue Saturday and Sunday.