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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

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Young indoor track team heads to Hampton Invitational

Coach Steve Taylor calls out times to runners at an early morning practice.  The mens and womens teams are preparing for the Hampton University Indoor Invitational this coming weekend.
Coach Steve Taylor calls out times to runners at an early morning practice. The mens and womens teams are preparing for the Hampton University Indoor Invitational this coming weekend.

The University of Richmond men's and women's indoor track and field teams, each with a full team of athletes returning to competition after an exhausting fall season, will travel to Hampton University to compete in the Hampton Invitational, to be held on Jan. 23 and 24 at the Boo Williams Sports complex in Hampton, Va.

With two solid performances so far, the women's team is satisfied with its start to the season. Steve Taylor, head coach for the men's team and assistant coach for the women's team, noted that the team traveling to the invitational was especially young.

There are 14 freshmen on a team of 37. But Taylor and his wife Lori, director of the track and field and cross country teams, expect big things from the women as the team battlesagainst the talented upperclassmen on the team.

Junior Megan Ney of McLean, Va., who competes in the long and high jumps for the Spiders, said she was excited to see the freshmen perform.

"Everyone already knows what a track meet is like, but competing in your first college track meet is memorable," Ney said, "and I think if everyone goes into the meet expecting a lot of themselves, we will see positive results, especially from the freshmen."

As a more senior member of the team, Ney sets the team standard. She improved her overall rankings of fifth in the long jump and 10th in the high jump in the Dec. 6 Holiday Classic Invitational, to fourth in the Maryland Terrapin Invitational on Jan.17 and a third-place finish in the triple jump.

Ney holds the school record in the long jump and will play a vital role in the team's success this coming weekend, Steve Taylor said.

"Megan is one of our stand-out athletes," he said.

Among the top finishers in the women's events at the Maryland Invitational was the weight throw trio of sophomores Samella Koroma and Monica Howard and freshman Meaghan McGovern who placed second, third and fourth respectively.

In the men's events, senior distance runner Garrett Graham, who just returned from a year abroad in China, challenged the team by running his personal best of 4 minutes, 20 seconds in the one mile event.

Steve Taylor appeared excited about the young and level headed team's efforts thus far. Although the team is young, it has many returners whom Taylor said he expected to take charge this weekend -- among them junior thrower Heather Roush, junior distance runner Amy Van Alstine and sophomore jumper and sprinter X'auntasia Johnson.

The men's medley relay runners, senior middle distance runners Sean Welsh and Matt Mello, junior distance runner Matt Llano and senior distance runner Jeff Strojny, are among the men traveling this weekend. Of these four men, Steve Taylor made special mention of Llano, who was the first male athlete in 29 years at the University of Richmond to qualify for the NCAA cross country championships in November.

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Llano said the medley team was strong and had a shot at winning at the conference meet.

"We'll have our work cut out for us because there are some other very good teams as well," he said.

Llano said he didn't think the team's age would have any effect on its performance, but stressed the importance of the freshmen performing.

"If everyone takes care of what they need to, the team score will pretty much take care of itself," he said. "Quite frankly, it depends on the freshmen competing. Some adjust to college running a little quicker than others."

Contact reporter Dani Pycroft at dani.pycroft@richmond.edu

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