Updated: Jan. 17, 2019 at 12:28 p.m.
When men’s and women’s indoor track and field competed at the Eastern Shore Cappy Anderson Invitational on Dec. 1, the meet was simply a continuation of months of training after the cross country season wrapped up weeks earlier in November.
But for six members of the men’s track and field program, it was the first time they raced in nearly seven months.
As cross country logged miles throughout the fall – placing two runners on all-conference teams at the Atlantic 10 Championship along the way – a handful of runners were recording hours in the weight room to prepare for the indoor track and field season. Those runners – five middle-distance racers and one sprinter – are now jumping into racing season after watching their teammates compete on the cross country course.
Despite finishing last out of five teams for the men’s side and fifth out of six teams for the women’s, the invitational was a strong showing for the Colonials as they claimed top finishes in four of the seven individual events they had athletes competing in.
“I think it was a good opener for the team, especially being an athlete who did not compete in the cross country season, getting that first meet under your belt is important to get going,” junior sprinter Jared Nelson said. “I was happy with the result, I competed, my fellow athletes competed and that’s just what we look to do going into the season.”
Nelson, who holds program records in both the indoor and outdoor triple jump as well as the indoor 60-meter and outdoor 200-meter sprints, said he focused on explosive weight lifting throughout the fall to build his strength up for the season.
“Lifting that strong weight is good for us going into our indoor season,” Nelson said. “When you have our staff, our coaches and things of that sort, they’re good at giving us a program that keeps us fit throughout the season,”
Nelson set a new personal record in the indoor 200-meter event at the invitational with a time of 23.92.
Head coach Terry Weir said while his cross country runners were competing, Nelson and the team’s middle-distance runners, seniors Ed Delavergne, Frank Delavergne, Aiden Kolenik and Sawyer Bilton, and sophomore Joel Stennett, were completing high volumes of sprints to build a base for the indoor and outdoor seasons.
“We got to make sure they get prepared,” Weir said. “It’s so different from distance runners, they have a lot of time to make mistakes and recover from them and as a sprinter, they can’t do that so we spend a lot of time with strength.”
Both Ed and Frank Delavergne competed in the 200-meter sprint with Nelson, clocking 24.68 and 25.13, respectively. Stennett raced in the 500-meter event for the first time in his career and finished with a time of 1:13.14. Kolenik and Bilton placed sixth and seventh in the 800-meter event with a time of 2:04.70 for Kolenik and 2:05.34 for Bilton.
“For our sprinters and mid-distance guys, it’s a rust-buster,” Weir said. “They haven’t competed since May of last year.”
The women’s side – which does not have any runners who do not compete in cross country – raced in the mile and 3,000-meter events. Junior Suzanne Dannheim won the women’s 3,000-meter by little more than a second with a time of 10:31.13, while senior Halley Brown topped the mile at 5:13.18. GW secured all but one spot in the top six of the mile.
“We don’t cover all the events and so when it comes to scoring in track, it’s going to be on the lower side for us because we don’t have any throwers, we don’t have any field events, we are limited in the sprints so we can do it this way,” Weir said. “Will we ever win an A-10 Championship in track this way? No, we’re not. But can we do very, very well and our guys can prove that we can do very well with this model.”
Last season on the men’s side, the Colonials earned their first individual medals in program history at the A-10 Indoor Track and Field Championship and also set a new A-10 record in the men’s distance relay team. Weir said instead of trying to best last season’s team while missing top runners, he wants the team to build themselves up for future success.
“This year is mostly getting other guys stepping up into the roles and getting experience at races,” Weir said.
On the women’s side, Weir said he expects to see runners improving on their times and some could take individual championships at the conference level.
“It’s going to be a lot more of a team breakthrough and I think we’re going to see that on the women’s side this year,” Weir said. “I expect to do a lot of the same that we did last year. I expect more athletes getting some PRs and I expect more athletes placing at the A-10s.”
For runners who compete year-round, building on the foundation set from the cross country season is a building block for indoor track and field meets. Sophomore Kathryn Nohilly said she uses her race experience from the fall during the indoor slate.
“They go really well together,” Nohilly said. “Most people who run cross country will end up running both indoor and outdoor track so it’s really just like a continuation of training throughout the whole thing.”
Men’s and women’s indoor track and field will head to Lexington, Va. Saturday for the Keydet Invite. The meet is set to begin at 10 a.m.
This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
On one reference, The Hatchet incorrectly spelled sophomore Kathryn Nohilly’s name. The article has been updated. We regret this error.