By: Eli Keith
On Saturday, March 19, the men’s and women’s track and field teams hosted seven other competing universities at the Battleground Athletic Complex for the home opener of the outdoor track and field season. The women’s team came in third place behind Delaware State University and Gettysburg College, respectively, while the men’s team finished third behind Delaware State and Christopher Newport University, missing second place by only seven points.
Scoring in track and field meets is based on the top six finishers in each event. First place receives 10 points, second receives eight, third receives six, fourth receives four, fifth receives two and sixth receives one point.
“Since it’s the first meet … everyone’s goal was to finish and feel accomplished doing it,” said senior sociology major Teresa Guzman. “You have to recognize you’re not where you were last year when you peaked.” Athletes on the team have workout programs designed to get them in the best shape towards the end of the season when they have to be at their best to qualify for postseason competition.
“It’s always great to host teams on our home turf,” said junior biomedical sciences major Hana Bussell, who competed in the women’s pole vault.
Although this is the Eagles’ first meet for the outdoor track season, they’re not out of practice, as the indoor track season just finished in late February. They’re looking to carry experiences from that season into this one.
“A team goal of ours is to stay strong and focused with all the hard work we have been putting in for the past few months,” said Bussell.
Junior biochemistry major Hannah Unger won the women’s high jump, junior psychology major and elementary education student Grace Pippin snagged third in the women’s 1500 meter and UMW took fourth through seventh place in the men’s 800 meter.
The longest race of the day, the 5000-meter race, had several Eagles participating in both the men’s and the women’s race. Freshman Jessica Oberlies finished in 21:19 as the top Eagle, while senior political science major Patrick Brown took second overall in the men’s race. Junior geography major and secondary education student Dylan Wright and junior cybersecurity major Patrick Murphy came in as the second and third Eagles in the same race, respectively.
“We want to give team members more defined goals for the season,” said Murphy. “Some people want to finish their senior season on a high note, others might want to bounce back from an injury, and some just want to improve. It’s exciting that despite all these goals, the team can pull together and give it their all.”
Since the track and field teams have not had a head coach since January, Assistant Coaches Stephen Harrison, Alec Villiva and Anthony Wallace have assumed interim head-coaching duties.
“It’s been nice seeing the assistant coaches take charge, work even harder and organize things,” said Murphy.
The assistant coaches could be seen running back and forth between events making sure their athletes were mentally and physically ready to go.
“It was weird not having the guidance we are used to having but I looked to the assistants and volunteers for support during the meet,” said junior psychology major Kayla Leonard.
However, Saturday’s meet was ultimately about the athletes getting their bodies back in tune and getting a strong start to the season.
Christopher Newport will host the Eagles in a meet next month on April 9, followed by a meet at Johns Hopkins on April 23 coming just a couple of weeks before the conference championship meet, which will take place on May 6 and 7. The Eagles seek to grow from Saturday’s performance as they look ahead to the more competitive meets further into the season. These future meets “show you where you stack up in terms of your performances,” said Guzman.
The Eagles’ next meet will also be at home, as they host the Battleground Relays on Saturday, April 2.