Track and Field: Throwers, jumpers, distance athletes extend Tribe dominance at VMI

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Courtesy Image / Tribe Athletics

Friday, Feb. 15, and Saturday, Feb. 16, at the VMI Indoor Classic hosted by the Virginia Military Institute, William and Mary racked up 16 qualifying marks, five wins and multiple personal bests across several events.  

Last time out, the Tribe recorded numerous top performances, including a new school record in the 200-meter dash set by redshirt junior Theo Chambers. While most of the sprinters did not travel to this meet, the field athletes and distance runners again cemented their case as the top team in the Colonial Athletic Association this season.  

Getting the action started in the weight throw, the Tribe duo of junior KJ Cook and sophomore Troy Yearwood impressed yet again. Cook won the competition with a heave of 19.61 meters, and Yearwood was close behind in second place, throwing 19.38 meters. Junior Connor Scott also finished 12th in the same event.  

Both Cook’s and Yearwood’s throws were personal bests for them, as Cook slipped into the school’s top 10 all-time list. Yearwood currently sits at 12th on that list in just his second season for the College. Cook’s win gave the Tribe 10 points for the team competition, in which the College finished third out of 25 teams. The throwing trio recorded another impressive performance in the shot put with Cook, Scott and Yearwood finishing in third, fourth and fifth place, respectively. Scott’s throw of 16.95 meters marks a new personal best for him while Cook’s throw of 17.43 meters was a new season best.  

In other field events, sophomore Michael Fairbanks continued his strong season, recording yet another qualifying mark of 4.95 meters in the pole vault. In the running events, the Tribe excelled as well, picking up more qualifying marks and scoring crucial points in the team competition. Friday night, the Tribe distance runners performed exceptionally well, with junior JP Trojan winning the 5,000-meter run in 14 minutes, 29.30 seconds. The Chardon, Ohio native was just a second off his indoor personal best of 14:28.13, set in March 2018.  

Trojan has been a fixture in the Tribe’s distance program across multiple distances and has had strong success in cross country as well. In the same race, freshman Tyler Lipps placed third overall in his first race in a Tribe uniform. Lipps ran 15:21.13. Redshirt freshman Ryan McCracken was also in the race and finished eighth overall, also contributing to the team score.  

Freshman Daniel Layton continued his impressive rookie season with another strong performance in the 60-meter hurdles. Layton again ran 8.44 seconds for the second straight week. He finished 12th place overall and the mark of 8.44 puts him in the top-five in the hurdles in school history. 

Another impressive performance came from freshman Andrew Lagattuta, who beat his older teammate junior John Cacciatore in the 1,000-meter run. Lagattuta ran 2:30.30 to finish fifth. Chambers returned to the track after his remarkable weekend last week to lead the Tribe’s 4×400-meter relay team to a fifth-place finish. He was accompanied by Layton, freshman Jack Bunting and graduate student Chris Short.  

The women’s track and field team was also in action over the weekend, performing exceptionally well against in-state rivals. The tribe excelled particularly in the relays, picking up qualifying marks in two of the three races. In the 4×800-meter relay, the College finished first overall in 9:23.95. Also, on Friday evening, the distance medley relay team of Taylor D. Jones, Kaycee Cox-Philyaw, Deirdre Lewin and Lauren Finikiotis placed second overall as well. In the final running event of the day, the 4×400-meter relay, the Tribe again finished first overall, recording a new season best and breaking a VMI facility record in the process.  

With most sprinters staying in Williamsburg for the weekend, it was up to the field athletes and distance runners, similar to the men’s team. Thrower Keeley Suzenski stepped up in a big way, setting two new personal bests in as many days. The freshman from Fleetwood, Pennsylvania placed third in the shot put, breaking her own freshman school record of 13.78. Sophomore Chelsea Wallace finished sixth overall in the same event with a new indoor personal best. Senior Alexis Brender a Brandis continued her string of top performances, winning the triple jump in a new lifetime best mark of 11.85 meters. Junior Taylor E. Jones recorded two top 10 finishes in the meet, placing second in the pole vault and 10th in the triple jump.  

The distance trio of senior Liv Paxton, and juniors Lauren Kroepfl and Megan Kolbe all finished in the top 10 in the 5,000-meter run. Paxton placed second in a time of 17:09.6, while Kroepfl and Kolbe ran 17:59.46 and 18:12.05 to place sixth and eighth, respectively. Similar to Layton, junior Jadyn Currie ran well in the 60meter hurdles, recording two new personal bests in the opening rounds of the competition and finishing eighth overall in the finals.  

Up next, both teams will head to Annapolis, Maryland next weekend to compete in the Navy Select meet, hosted by the United States Naval Academy. This marks the second trip of the season to Annapolis, and the fourth straight week of competition. After that, the Tribe will stay relatively close to home, competing in the CNU Qualifier the following weekend.