Five distance runners from the University of Richmond track and field team will travel to Walnut, Calif., to run in the Mt. San Antonio College Relays event, which takes place from April 16 to 18.
Junior Andrew Benford, sophomore Tim Quinn and freshman Levi Grandt, along with sophomore Nicol Traynor and freshman Katrina Spratford all met their respective qualifying standards to secure themselves spots in the event.
Lori Taylor, director of track and field and cross country and head coach of the women's track team, called the three-day event a "particularly great longer distance meet where runners have the opportunity to run very fast."
While the weather on the East Coast at this time of year is often precarious, Taylor said the low humidity and the temperatures after sundown on the West Coast were perfect conditions for producing great performances.
These athletes are are ready to qualify for regionals and possibly nationals and they are in a position to compete at this level, she said.
Big meets like Mt. SAC are the highlights of the season and runners want to be at the top of their games to try to hit qualifying marks and set personal records, Benford said.
The conference meet in May is focused on scoring points and winning races, he said, but Mt. SAC is about people running fast times.
Quinn, Grandt and Spratford will run the 10K on Thursday night, followed by Benford and Traynor in the 5K on Friday night.
Based on his current condition, Benford said he wanted to be faster than the 14-minute barrier in his race. He has already qualified for the East Regional NCAAs in the steeplechase, but said that he'd like to see in which event he had a better shot at making National NCAAs.
Last year Traynor ran the race in 16 minutes and 54 seconds, just two seconds off the regional qualifying time. This time around she said she was hoping to run faster.
Traynor said she was ready for a big personal record and a step toward qualifying for National NCAAs, Taylor said.
"Last year, the winner of the heat I'll probably be in was around 16:15-16:20, which is what my goal is for the season," Traynor said.
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She is hoping to get her qualifying time out of the way so she can concentrate on scoring points for the team later on during the season.
Taylor will be accompanying another group of athletes to the Princeton Invitational on April 17 and 18, and the sprinters, throwers and jumpers will travel to Newport News, Va., to take part in an event at Christopher Newport University.
"It's important that we find high competition for all our athletes," Taylor said, adding that the weekend could get the athletes where they needed to be for the conference championships.
Taylor said the Mt. SAC event was "the level we aspire for all our athletes and we need to get them to those levels of competition so they can have the opportunity to meet the standard," she said.
Contact reporter Sarah Blythe-Wood at firstname.lastname@example.org
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