The members of the University of Richmond track team are looking forward to a fresh start with the outdoor season after a disappointing outcome at the Atlantic 10 Indoor Track and Field Championships in February.
The team had the worst finish in the conference in the nine years that coaches Lori and Steve Taylor have been at Richmond, Lori said. The women's team finished eighth and the men's team finished ninth. No members made it to the NCAA Indoor Championships, Lori said.
Injuries hampered the team's success during the championships, she said. Despite problems at the championships, there were some highlights there and at other meets, Steve, the men's coach, wrote in an e-mail.
"Matt Llano and Tim Quinn specifically performed great, especially at the Atlantic 10 Championships and at the Notre Dame Invitational, where Matt narrowly missed the NCAA Championships qualifying mark in the 5K," he said. "The standard was 14:10.00 and he ran 14:11.19."
The overall goal for the season is to improve the fourth-place standing from last year's outdoor championships, he said.
"I think the distance group did really well, and a lot of the freshmen stepped up, but at the conference meet it kind of fizzled," said Megan Ney, who competes in multiple jumping events, and also sprints. "We've been trying this year to grow as a group. We've been having team meetings and trying to work more as one, rather than two or three groups."
The strongest women's programs are distance, throwing and jumping, Lori said.
"Our conference has gotten so much more competitive in the sprints area," she said.
A lack of scholarship funding has also hindered the sprinting program, she said.
"Four years ago we were cut from 14 scholarships to 10 scholarships, and that's made a significant difference on how competitive we can be," Lori said. "It's made us focus more on the distance side of the program."
One distance runner whom Lori said she thought would excel was junior Nicol Traynor. Traynor qualified for the NCAA championships in the 5,000-meter last spring, she said, but was injured last cross-country season.
"We're really working to get her in a position to get to the NCAAs like she did last year and in a place where she can become All-American," Lori said.
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The men's program also faced some difficulties during the indoor season, mainly because of Title IX regulations, Steve said.
"This year our student body population is roughly 54 percent female and 46 percent male, so to comply with Title IX our athletics department numbers have to match this change," he said.
There are also no scholarships for any of the three men's teams, which consist of cross country, indoor track and field and outdoor track and field.
"Since the men's program is non-scholarship, we look for prospective students that are motivated and willing to accept the challenge of slaying the megalithic (meaning those schools that have scholarships and other resources)," Steve said.
Senior distance runner Andrew Benford could not compete this indoor season because of an injury, and will redshirt the outdoor season.
"The plan is to keep training and enter a few races individually," he said.
Benford also ran in the World Mountain Running Championships last summer and placed 13th, but will not participate again this summer.
"I have the rest of my running career to do that, so I figured I might as well put everything into our fifth year," he said.
Benford and fellow seniors Matt Llano and Jon Wilson chose to redshirt past track seasons in order to return for their fifth year and build up the cross country team. "Our goal is to win conferences and make it to nationals," Llano said.
At the indoor championships, Llano took first in the 5,000-meter event and second in the 3,000, but prefers running the 10 k, he said.
"At first it was a really scary event to tackle," Llano said.
His goal is to break his personal best this season and run somewhere in the 28-minute, 30-second range, he said. He will race next weekend at the Stanford Invitational, and because the race takes such a toll on the body, he will continue to train until the outdoor conference championships in May, he said.
The season opened last weekend after some track team members competed at the Patriot Invitational at George Mason University. Senior Chris Eccleston set the school javelin record with a throw of 60.60m. Senior Megan Ney won the long jump with a distance of 5.74m, freshman Dana Guglielmo won in the 3,000m and sophomore Meaghan McGovern won with her hammer distance of 53.34m.
The most important meets of this season will be the Colonial Relays on April 3 in Williamsburg and the A-10 Championships in May, both coaches said.
Contact staff writer Leigh Donahue at email@example.com
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