Saturday at Zable Stadium, the William and Mary track and field teams opened their season by welcoming state rivals George Mason and Virginia to Williamsburg for the W&M Triangular meet. After the official conclusion of the NCAA indoor season last weekend, it was time for the opening of the 2019 outdoor campaign.
The Tribe truly excelled in the field events, getting strong performances in the men’s competitions from sophomore thrower Kelly Cook, Jr., who placed first in the hammer throw, third in the shotput, and third in the discus throw with throws of 55.31m, 16.41m, and 49.22m, respectively. On the women’s side, freshman thrower Chelsea Wallace led the charge, placing second in the shotput and third in the discus. It marked the first outdoor collegiate meet for the former All-American from Chesapeake, VA. The Tribe also got strong performances from senior Preston Richardson, sophomore George Cross, and senior Bri Miller.
The women’s 2000m steeplechase kicked off the running events on Saturday afternoon, and freshman Lauren Kroepfl dominated the race for the College, running 7:16.91 for the 18-hurdle, 5-lap race. The race began relatively slowly, with the three competitors sticking close together for the first two laps. However, Kroepfl used her speed and strength to gain the advantage on the third lap, and never looked back. Also, a trio of strong performances in the 1500m paced the Tribe, with senior Rachel Snyder and junior Deirdre Casey both recording top-five finishes, and junior Cole Clark placing eighth in the men’s race.
While the meet did not officially keep team scores, the competitive spirit was still in the air on St. Patrick’s Day weekend. Keeping up the spirit of the holiday, it was all green in the men’s 800m, as the entire top five consisted of either George Mason or Tribe athletes. Freshman Colin Grip was the top finisher for the College, finishing third in 1:57.24, while a pair of George Mason sophomores, Colin Cannon and Jake Lonsdale, finished first and second. In the sprints, Virginia junior Anna Jefferson had a strong day, winning both the 100m and 200m dashes. In the women’s 200m, the Tribe had five runners place in the top seven, led by junior sprinter Susanna Maisto.
Up next were the final individual events of the day, the men’s and women’s 5000m. On the women’s side, the Tribe were led by juniors Charlotte Kowalk and Carina Garcia, who finished fourth and sixth, respectively behind a trio of Virginia runners. The final individual event of the day was the men’s 5000m. From the start, George Mason dominated the race, with numerous runners in the lead pack. Slowly but surely, Freshman Micah Pratt worked his way back into the race and gathered momentum going into the final lap. The Lynchburg, VA native ran one of the fastest final laps of the day in 63 seconds, but the gap proved to be insurmountable. The Patriots led the way with the top four finishers, led by senior Trent Lancaster and junior Thomas Amabile. The top finisher for the College was Pratt, who finished in fifth with a personal-best time of 14:54.99. The final events of the day were the men’s and women’s 4x400m relay. The Tribe placed first in a competitive race, edging out George Mason by .31 seconds, 4:16.45 to 4:16.76.
It was a great way to end an opening meet for both Tribe teams, who strung together strong performances in the sprints, distance races, and field events. Overall, the Tribe men and women had seven event wins and 32 athletes recorded personal bests.
On Saturday, several athletes also qualified for the IC4AChampionships which will take place May 11-12 in Princeton, N.J. The Tribe will look to build on these strong performances, with the ultimate goal of the CAA Championships May 3-4. Both Tribe track and field teams will be back in action next weekend at the Dan Stimson Memorial Meet hosted by the College, kicking off at 10 a.m.