Track and field: Runners, on your mark

The 48th annual Colonial Relays brought teams from 40 colleges and universities to Walter J. Zable Stadium over the weekend, and the spectacle did not disappoint.

Facing stiff adversity in each event, William and Mary finished sixth overall in the women’s division and seventh on the men’s side. Rutgers racked up 133 points in the men’s competition and 104 points in the women’s competition, winning both.

“We had some big schools here — Villanova, Georgetown, Rutgers,” Director of track and field Stephen Walsh said. “So we were going up against some big competition. I think a lot of those teams travel with more people than we have on our roster. I think, for us, we had some good things happen.”

The College used a few individual performances to rise to the top of the rankings at the Colonial Relays. The distance program led the way for the Tribe during the three-day, 26-event meet.

Friday night, junior Elaina Balouris set the school record in the 5,000 meter run with a dazzling second place finish in 16 minutes, three seconds. The College’s men’s 4×1500 relay team, consisting of junior Rad Gunzenhauser, sophomore David Waterman, senior Liam Anastasia-Murphy and senior John Muller beat all challengers with a scorching time of 15:55.

The key performances were not limited to the continually impressive distance program; the College’s field team kept pace with the distance side of events. Sophomores Nina Ullom and Elizabeth Crafford cleared 3.6 meters in the pole vault, tying them for fifth in the meet and seventh in College history. On the men’s side, freshman Austin Vegas vaulted for second place while freshmen Derek O’Connell and Greg Gallagher tied for third and continued to impress in their first year with the Tribe.

In the hammer throw, senior Natalie Baird finished second with a season-best throw of 47.66 meters, while sophomore Brian Waterfield set a personal record of 52.63 meters to boost him to seventh all-time in school records. Additionally, freshman Rochelle Evans took third in the shot put with a throw of 13.54 meters, breaking Baird’s school record for longest throw by a freshman.

“Rochelle Evans had a great day, and we had a lot of good performances in the throws,” Walsh said. “I think it was a real solid weekend on the field event side of things.”

Freshman Bob Smutsky became the fastest Tribe sprinter since 2004, and the 12th fastest in school history, running the 100-meter dash in 11.09 seconds. Smutsky’s time could be another sign of a larger renaissance for the College’s sprinting team, which has been lackluster to nonexistent for the better part of a decade. Freshmen Jomar Aryee and Paul Wahlman notched the 14th and 16th best times in school history in the 400-meter hurdles.

The College excelled in the relays all day Saturday, with second place finishes in the women’s distance medley and women’s 4×1500 relay.  Senior Katie Buenaga placed the distance medley team at the front with a strong leadoff in the opening 1200 meters. She then handed the baton to freshman Claire Tito who sprinted around the track and gave it to sophomore Casey Lardner for the 800-meter portion of the race. Lardner, who had been injured for most of her freshman season, put the team in good position going into the final 1600-meter run. Junior Michelle Britto capped off the race with an impressive mile that gave the team a time of 11:54, the 14th best in school history.

While the Tribe only won one event outright in the meet, it proved it can compete with the nation’s biggest and best teams in both the men and women’s divisions.

The College travels to Fairfax next week for the Mason Spring Invitational.


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