The William and Mary women's track and field team will end the spring season this week at the NCAA Championship finals in Eugene, Ore., with two outstanding distance women aiming for the top of the podium. Junior Elaina Balouris (Allison Park, Pa.) will run the 10,000m on Wednesday night, June 5, at 10:10 p.m. Eastern time (7:10 p.m. local), and freshman Emily Stites (Wyoming, Ohio) is in the 5,000m on Friday night, June 7, at 9:15 p.m. Eastern (6:15 p.m. local).
Wednesday Live Video
Friday Live Video
Photos from the East Preliminaries (by Tim O'Dowd)
Tribe's Stites Extends Superb Freshman Year (story from the Daily Press' Dave Fairbank)
In the 10,000m on Wednesday, Balouris will be looking to improve on her 19th-place performance from one year ago, and earn her third All-American honour. She qualified out of the East semifinals two weeks ago by running a school-record 33:43.27, and also ran a 34:20 back in April at the Mt. SAC Relays. By time this season, Balouris is ranked 17th in the final, but running against the same women at the NCAA Championships last November (6K), she finished fourth.
That cross country performance, where Balouris placed 13th overall and lead W&M to a 21st-place showing, earned her the second All-America nod of her career, and wrapped up a very successful fall for the junior. She was also the individual CAA Champion, breaking the course record at the Tribe's home facility, and was picked by the league coaches at the CAA Athlete of the Year. Indoors, she earned All-East honors at the ECAC Championships in the 3,000m, and outdoors, set school records at both 5,000m and 10,000m. Balouris finished second at the CAA Championships in both the 1,500m and 5,000m, while helpignt he Tribe to its first conference championship since 2010.
The standout-freshman Stites will toe the line in her first national track championships at 5,000m on Friday night, looking to continue her impressive first year wearing the Green and Gold. She is ranked ninth in the event with her school-record 15:45.31 from the Mt. SAC Relays, ranked eighth based on finishes from the NCAA Cross Country Championships last fall, and ranked 10th in TrackandFieldNews.com's latest formchart.
Stites is one of the top junior-aged athletes (20-and-under) in the country in 2013, and has the fastest junior times in the U.S. indoors at 5,000m and outdoors in both the 5,000m and 10,000m this season. Her 15:45.31 is the fifth-fastest ever for a U.S. junior athlete, and is just 10 seconds from the junior record. Stites' 16:05.71 indoor 5,000m was the fastest in the world for a junior in 2013, and she ranks fifth in the 10,000m and 10th in the 5,000m outdoors. At the CAA Championships in May, she ran 34:15.49 to win her first conference title.
All of that doesn't even include what she has accomplished in cross country, where she earned All-American honours with a 26th-place finish at the NCAA meet as a freshman, and won the USAT&F Junior national championship. Picked as the CAA Rookie of the Year after the NCAA meet, Stites represented Team USA in a pair of high-level international meets, finishing as the top American at the BUPA Great Edinburgh Challenge, and captaining the U.S. Junior team at the World Cross Country Championships. She'll have more chances to wear the Red, White, and Blue this summer, as she is qualified for the U.S. Junior Track Championships in the 1,500m, 3,000m, and 5,000m, and is qualified for the senior championships as well at 5,000m.
Simply by starting the races this week, both women will earn their second All-America award of the year, and the third of Balouris' career. The top-eight finishing athletes in each event are named first-team All-America by the USTFCCCA, with places 9-16 earning second-team accolades. All other athletes who start the competition are named honorable-mention All-America. Stites is the first true freshman at W&M in any sport to earn a pair of All-America honors in the highest division, and the first in any division since women's gymnast Jeanne Foster Kuyper '89 earned four Division II titles in 1986.
|W&M Women's Track and Field Outdoor All-Americans|
|1981||Jeri Daniels||Shot Put|
|1982||Jeri Daniels||Shot Put|
|1994||Lisa Rayner||High Jump|
|2012||Elaina Balouris||10,000m (HM)|