Men’s and women’s track and field competed at the Atlantic 10 Championships with a series of school and personal records, many coming from the team’s graduating runners.
The Colonials collected three first-place finishes throughout the meet as four runners earned all-conference honors, improving upon the team’s performance from last year when GW’s highest finish came in fourth place. The men’s squad finished second to last in the A-10 in 10th place, and the women’s team finished in 11th place out of 13 in the overall championship.
Junior Miles Grant set a new GW record of 6.85 meters in the men’s long jump with a fifth-place finish at 7.04 meters. He also set the school record in the men’s high jump earlier this season to add to his multiple indoor and outdoor records.
“We tend to show up on championship days and at least someone on the team is happy with the races,” graduate Margaret Coogan said in an interview. “But I think, particularly, it was even more so an example of that in every race, there was just something to be proud of, somebody to be proud of, whether or not they finished as high as they wanted to.”
On the women’s side, graduate Kathryn Nohilly set the school record in the women’s 1,500-meter event earlier this season and picked up an all-conference recognition for her performance this season. Nohilly finished first in the steeplechase with a 10:33.01 time and third in the 1,500 meter with a time of 4:34.63.
Coogan also earned all-conference in the women’s steeplechase with a second-place time of 10:33.89.
Coogan said everyone on the team had a strong positive attitude and determination that allowed them to succeed and support their teammates during the championship, reflecting the team’s pride. She said the team’s championship performance reflected the hard work it applied throughout the season and helped athletes grow closer, supporting each other during the championship.
“I think it’s just a reward for the hard work that we’ve been putting in,” she said. “And it’s not like it’s no surprise watching your teammates get first or second or whatever because you are with them every day. You know how good they are, you know how deserving they are and how hard they work.”
Nohilly said that the team improved throughout the season and adjusted to short-distance events as runners cut down on times, beat school records and stayed competitive while supporting each other. She said the trek toward championships inspires the team as they watch each other’s performance and growth while also having fun at the track.
“I think one of the really big strengths of our team is, well, like Margaret said, I think we always kind of shot for championship races because we’re competitive against other teams,” Nohilly said. “So I think that’s a big strength, but I also think that a huge strength is kind of our culture in the sense of our support for one another as well. I feel like our team is really supportive of one another, even across the guys and women’s team as well.”
On the men’s side, junior Ryan Fowkes made the all-conference team, winning the men’s 1,500 meter with a time of 3:55.33. Fowkes broke GW’s program record in the 1,500 meter at the Virginia Challenge earlier this season with a time of 3:45.56, nearly 10 seconds faster than his first-place finish last weekend.
Senior Thomas Sand ran a personal best time of 30:57.58 in the 10,000-meter race to finish in third place and earn all-conference honors.
Sophomore Kevin Conlon finished in tenth place in the men’s 5,000-meter event with a time of 14:36.78, besting his previous record from earlier this season by more than eight seconds.
In addition to the all-conference honors, three other athletes set personal records in their events. Broedner achieved a new personal best after winning the men’s steeplechase in a time of 9:08.53, more than two seconds faster than his previous best from last season.
Broedner said he enjoyed seeing his teammates succeed in races when they made a plan to win. He said everyone was focused and calm during the championships as they looked to perform as best as possible, and the coaching staff supported all athletes equally.
“I think for several of us, we executed the plan, the plan’s what happened and I think that can be rare,” Broedner said. “And so, it’s a special feeling. And then to feel the support as a result, it’s great.”
Assistant Coach Samantha Nadel said the team spent the weeks before the meet preparing mentally and physically at GW’s track field, racing against each other to compete at their fullest potential. She said athletes worked on maintaining their conference mindset during the championship to be prepared for the weight of the competition.
She said the championship showcased the athletes’ performance and represented the hard work from this year, noting that Broedner and Fowkes moved from an unranked status in the conference prior to the championship to third in the steeplechase and second in the men’s 1,500 meter, respectively.
“So I think that’s what really stood out to me was just how well everyone competed, like everyone came ready to go and really came with that competitive edge,” Nadel said. “And so that was really awesome to see.”
Nadel said the women’s team will look different next season because seven athletes will graduate at the end of this season, leaving space for many new faces.
“I think it will feel like a new team, just because those upperclassmen have been – particularly Margaret and Katherine – such a core of the team for so long,” Nadel said. “So it’ll definitely have a different feel, but I’m also excited because it’ll just be like a kind of like a new beginning in a way. So we’ll definitely miss them.”
Nohilly, Coogan, Broedner and Fowkes competed this weekend at the Princeton Elite Invitational, the team’s final meet before the NCAA East Regional next Thursday, where they will look for another win in the steeplechase and men’s 1,500 meter.
“We were really, really happy coming off the weekend, but we’re still not done,” Nadel said. “We have this weekend, we’ll be competing.”