After a season of breaking both school and personal records, GW men’s and women’s track and field have their sights set high for the A-10 Championships Saturday and Sunday in Amherst, Massachusetts.
The Colonials look to dominate the meet with a squad led by senior Ryan Fowkes, the Atlantic 10 champion in the 1500-meter last season, and A-10 All-Rookie team freshman Sarah Mitchell, who posted the best mile time of any freshman in the conference during the indoor season. The men’s and women’s track and field teams hope to improve their performances from last season, where they placed 10th and 11th place respectively out of the 13 teams competing in the A-10 Championships.
“Championship season, especially, isn’t so much about time and more so about place,” Assistant Coach Samantha Nadel said. “Can we score points at the conference meet, which is top eight? Can we get on the podium, which is the top three in the A-10?”
The men’s track and field team freshman Michael Bohlke, freshman Jacob Heredia, senior Pat Castellano and senior Fowkes shattered the GW record at the distance medley relay—a race split by 1200-meter, 400-meter, 800-meter and 1600-meter legs—with a time of 9:44.48 at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia Friday. Fowkes anchored the 1600-meter leg in 4:01.43, bringing GW up from ninth to fourth place out of 18 teams.
“I’m really looking forward to taking my season longer this year and qualifying for the NCAA regional meet and then eventually, hopefully, the national meet as well,” Fowkes said. “Those are the big goals, and then going into A-10, I was A-10 champion last year in the 1500s. I’m looking to repeat that.”
Fowkes, who held the GW record in the 800-meter and 1500-meter outdoor track events coming into this season, broke both again this season. His 1500-meter time of 3:43.14 was more than half a second better than his previous best of 3:45.56, and his 800-meter time of 1:51.38 was more than a second better than his record-breaking 1:52.51 time last season.
Fowkes said he was aiming to compete in February’s A-10 indoor winter championships, where he hoped to break the 4-minute mile time, but because of an injury, he spent most of the winter in the pool cross-training.
“I was sort of pleasantly surprised with how quickly I came back to running and how things have gone thus far in the early season and being able to improve on my times from last year,” Fowkes said. “And both the 800 and 1500 was a really positive experience.”
Senior Thomas Sand placed second in the 5000-meter with his 14:14.41 time, a school record that outpaced the previous record by nearly seven seconds. Sand’s record-breaking season continued when he finished the 10,000-meter in 30:08.96 at the Virginia Challenge April 21, topping the previous Colonial mark that had stood for four years by just 52 seconds.
The women’s track and field season has featured impressive performances by freshmen runners, including a school-record 4:15.96 in the 4 x 400-meter time from an all-freshmen lineup of Emma Benzinger, Marcella Mancini, Rita Mazumder and Sarah Mitchell in the Towson meet April 1.
Graduate student Yukino Parle rounded out the squad’s wins at Towson with victories in the 800-meter and 1500-meter events, crossing the finish line with times of 2:16.73 and 4:41.98, respectively. Graduate student Lexi Seifert finished less than a second behind Parle in the 1500-meter with a 4:42.76, placing her in second in the race.
The team looks to extend their competition from the A-10 Championship to the IC4A/ECAC Championships on May 13 and 14 in Fairfax, Virginia. High placements in these events could help GW compete at the NCAA East Regionals and Finals in late May and early June, respectively.
As the team heads into the final stretch of competition, Mitchell said the training regiment has shifted from medium-intensity workouts with longer mileage to shorter workouts with higher intensity.
“We’re definitely focusing on high-intensity workouts like 300s, 200s, maybe a 600 in a workout,” Mitchell said. “So definitely just like tapering down and making sure we’re really preparing for race day.”
Benzinger and senior Miles Grant toppled the women’s and men’s records at the Hopkins Loyola Invitational in the 100-meter dash, sprinting to finishes of 12.94 and 11.34, respectively.
Nadel said the coaching staff is making workouts faster and shorter in preparation for A-10s, which are less than two weeks away.
“So really it becomes tune up, workout, race, tune up, workout, race, that sort of thing as we go throughout the outdoor season,” Nadel said.
Nadel said the team is looking to peak in their high-stakes, late-season performances.
“You know, we’re obviously looking at the A-10s as a big meet for us, but we always want to go as far as we can,” Nadel said.
This article appeared in the May 1, 2023 issue of the Hatchet.