The University of Richmond's track and field teams were forced to skip competition in the Patriot Games Tournament at George Mason University because of the snow last weekend, but despite missing one of the six meets the team uses to prepare for the Atlantic 10 Indoor Track and Field Championships, coaches Steve and Lori Taylor said they were optimistic that the teams would finish in the conference's top three.
In order to succeed, Lori said each team member would need to focus on the mental and physical preparation needed to build confidence. She said it was critical for the individual members to have confidence in their ability to perform on the day of the conference meets, and to be able to focus on the success of the whole team.
In mid-January, the women's team earned third place at the University of Maryland Invitational, in Landover, Md. The women's distance medley relay team - Nicol Traynor, Jasmine Cottle, Andi DeFonce and Amy Van Alstine - earned first place with a time of 12 minutes and 12.32 seconds, 12 full seconds better than the second-place finishers. Senior Megan Ney came away with a win in the triple jump (11.65m), second place in the high jump (1.63m) and a third-place finish in the 200m (26.30s). The men's team finished 17th.
In the distance races, Richmond will compete with several experienced runners including seniors Van Alstine, Matt Llano and Andrew Benford.
Llano and Benford will potentially qualify for the NCAA championship, a national evaluation of an athlete's overall performance at events throughout the season, Steve Taylor said.
Running alongside those seniors, both teams include several rookies. Of the 39 women, 14 are freshmen. Coach Lori Taylor said she had been excited to see freshman Dana Guglielmo excelling in the distance run, competing with Van Alstine. Of the 28 men, nine are freshmen. The men's team, which is Richmond's only non-scholarship men's program, also includes several football players who will compete in sprint races.
With a team full of talented athletes, many of whom are freshmen, it is essential that the team focus on bonding, Lori said. In order to rank in the top three of the A-10 conference, team members must be willing to commit and prepare both mentally and physically.
As the team looks ahead to the A-10 Championships, Lori said she predicted the University of North Carolina at Charlotte would be one of the teams' toughest competitors.
"Charlotte is the most competitive team in the conference," Lori said. "It could have a bad day and still be strong enough to win."
Despite Charlotte's impressive record, Lori said Richmond's team was usually in the top two or three of the conference, and she was hopeful about its ranking this season.
"The first meet of the season is a great opportunity to knock the rust off," Steve said of the teams' competition in the Christopher Newport University Holiday Open in Newport News, Va. The focal point of an indoor track team is performance on the day of a meet, they said, and both coaches are dedicated to preparing the teams for success.
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With team members ranging from those who are qualified to compete for the NCCA championship, to members who are still developing as college athletes, the coaches said they were always looking for ways to improve the team.
The nature of the sport relies on each player striving for improvement, Lori said.
"Each person is accountable and responsible for his or her performance," she said.
Because Richmond does not have an on-campus indoor facility, the team usually relies on cheering support from each other. But Richmond students interested in showing support for the track and field teams could join the Spiders in Newport News, Va., on Feb. 6, or in Chapel Hill, N.C., for the Carolina Invitational on Feb. 12.
Contact reporter Dryden Witman at firstname.lastname@example.org
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