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W&M Track and Field Opens Spring Hosting Tribe Invitational
Updated: Sunday 03/20/2013 (ET)
by Jacob Skipper
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The William and Mary track and field teams will welcome athletes from 15 other colleges as well as a number of local professionals this weekend to open the spring season at the Tribe Invitational on Friday night and Saturday.  Friday's events will include both men's and women's hammer throws, as well as the men's and women's 10,000m run.  All throwing events will be held at the Stimson Throwing Events Area, off of Ukrop Drive across the street from the IM field, while all jumping and track events will take place at Zable Stadium.

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Competing Teams
William and Mary, Yale, Army, Navy (women), Richmond, Moravian, Norfolk State, George Mason, New Haven, Howard (throwers only), Lafayette, Virginia Union, Virginia State, Maryland-Eastern Shore, Hagerstown Community, Mount Olive

Scouting the Tribe
W&M's athletes will be competing for the first time since the IC4A/ECAC Championships on March 2-3, and for some, it will be the first competition since the Virginia Tech Challenge five weeks ago.  This is the outdoor-opener for the Tribe, and so several athletes may be competing in events that would normally be their second or third events.

On the men's side, look for strong performances in the pole vault, where freshmen Austin Vegas (Kernersville, N.C.) and Greg Gallagher (New Rochelle, N.Y.) will be joined by classmates Derek O'Connell (Virginia Beach, Va.) and Joseph Burke (Warrenton, Va.), who sat out the indoor season.  Juniors Rad Gunzenhauser (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and Joshua Mercado (Citrus Heights, Calf.) will both compete in the 10,000m on Friday night with high expectations, Gunzenhauser after winning the IC4A 5,000m three weeks ago and Mercado as the defending CAA champion in the event.

In the throws, freshman Taylor Frenia (Virginia Beach, Va.) takes aim in all three "strength" events (discus, shot put, and weight throw), while sophomore Brian Waterfield (Chesapeake, Va.) makes his season-debut after redshirting the indoor season to recover from injury.  Freshman Bob Smutsky (Dillsburg, Pa.) is entered in the 200m dash, where he broke the Tribe's freshman record indoors and qualified for the IC4A Championships, as well as in the javelin throw.

For the women, All-American Elaina Balouris (Allison Park, Pa.) is entered in both the 1,500m and the 3,000m for some variety before she returns to the longer (5,000m, 10,000m) distances later in the year.  She'll be joined in the 3,000m by double-All East winner Dylan Hassett (Alpharetta, Ga.) as well as freshman Team USA veteran Meghan McGovern (North Wales, Pa.).

Leading the way in the sprints is the fabulous freshman foursome of Jessica Ewing (Virginia Beach, Va.), Claire Tito (Richmond, Va.)Shelby Feliciano (Winchester, Va.), and Ashley Woodards (Franklinville, N.J.), all entered in several events ranging from 200m up through the 400m hurdles and the 4x400m relay.  In the 800m, senior Katie Buenaga (Greenville, Del.) leads an armada of Tribe middle-distance runners, including All-East caliber teammates Olivia Harding (Roanoke, Va.), Casey Lardner (Burke, Va.), and Heather Clagett (Norfolk, Va.).  Buenaga is also the top entry in the 1,500m alongside Balouris, Lardner, and Clagett, as well as many more teammates who will be doubling-back from the 800m.

Fifth-year senior Sara Lasker (Fredericksburg, Va.) returns in the 10,000m on Friday night, and will be joined in the early events by fellow-fifth year Natalie Baird (Sterling, Va.) in the hammer throw.  Baird is also entered in the shot put and the discus on Saturday, and will be joined in all three events by freshman Rochelle Evans (Christiansburg, Va.).  Freshmen Katie Johnston (Haddonfield, N.J.) and Olivia Jebb (Cornwall, N.Y.), both two-sport athletes (Johnston on the soccer team, Jebb on volleyball), will be competing in the javelin and the long jump, respectively, with Johnston as the top-entered spear-thrower after dominating the state of New Jersey in her high school days.  Another field-event to watch will be the pole vault, where sophomore Elizabeth Crafford (Darien, Conn.) and junior Nicole Dory (Fort Worth, Texas) are both championship-contenders and likely to qualify for the ECAC Championships in the first meet.  Dory is also entered in the long jump alongside Jebb, while sophomore Nina Ullom (Chantilly, Va.) will aim for a personal-best performance in the vault.

News and Notes
- Sharp-eyed fans will notice that freshman All-American Emily Stites (Wyoming, Ohio) will not be competing this weekend.  Instead, she is running in the World Cross Country Championships, which take place Sunday morning in Poland.  Stites earned her second-appearance on Team USA after winning the U.S. Junior National Championship last month in St. Louis.

- The 10,000m on Friday night, and indeed the whole meet, is much bigger than in years past thanks in large part to the outstanding performances put on last year.  Paced by all-time Tribe great Ed Moran '03, the top three finishers in the 10,000m on Friday night were the top three collegiate performances in the country for almost a month, with the Tribe's Josh Hardin (Sterling, Va.) and Alex McGrath (Marlborough, N.H.) finishing first and third around GMU's Everett Hackett.  Hackett is back as the top entrant this year.

- The record books could be in for quite a revision on Sunday, with eight athletes entered under the existing stadium records and a number of others seeded just behind.  That includes three women's events, the discus, 400m dash, and 10,000m run, which all have two athletes seeded under the records.  Other fast entries are in the women's 4x100m relay, and the men's 400m dash.

- Last week at the annual Provost's Award reception, the track and field and cross country programs accounted for 20 of the 98 awards handed out.  To qualify, athletes must carry a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5 through the fall semester.  Runners, jumpers, and throwers honored included Mark Moran (McLean, Va.), Jackson Stone (Hingham, Mass.), Erica Amatori (Cary, N.C.), Melissa DiVecchia (Centreville, Va.), Dory, Leanna Eisenman (Front Royal, Va.), Sarah Garratt (Bluffton, S.C.), Anna Rose Gellert (Providence, N.J.), Maggie Gutierrez (Purcellville, Va.), Felicia Hammer (Monroe, N.H.), Harding, Jebb, Lardner, Lasker, Avery Mattingly (Blacksburg, Va.), McGovern, Meghan Mulroy (Midlothian, Va.), Stites, Grace Thomas (Vero Beach, Fla.), and Kayla Trantham (Poquoson, Va.).

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