Jam-packed weekend helps track team prep for ODACs

With only three weeks until the postseason, the men’s track team squeezed in two road meets over the weekend in an effort to sort out any kins before the ODAC Championship and nationals


Patrick Robertson, ‘17, won last year’s hammer throw competition in the ODAC championship with a toss of over 47 meters. Photo courtesy of W&L Sports Info.

Conor Habiger

The Washington and Lee Track Team had a busy weekend.

The team competed in two separate competitions. First, on April 1, the Generals participated in the Colonial Relays at William & Mary and followed that up with a third place showing in the Roanoke College Invitational on April 2. Both meets presented the Generals with opportunities for meaningful strides in a season marked by depth, development and a few growing pains along the way.

Friday’s event at William & Mary gave distance runners Mac Strehler, ‘17, and Ian McDonald, ‘17, “a chance to be in a race with Division I athletes who have faster personal bests than they do,” assistant Coach Brandon Spalding said.

Both Strehler and McDonald ran in the 5,000 meter race and posted times of 15:13:69 and 15:36:10, respectively.

Rarely do the Generals get to compete against such a saturated talent pool, but Coach Spalding expressed optimism before Friday’s races, saying, “the hope is that they will get pulled along by the better athletes in their races.”

Saturday’s Roanoke Invitational gave the Generals athletes in various categories a competitive setting to improve, or simply maintain their individual marks for the season. For veterans and former Conference Champions like Patrick Robertson, ‘17, (throwing) and Jack Jones, ‘17, (400 meters), McDonald (1500 meters) and Strehler (10000 meters), Roanoke served as a useful tune-up as the Generals make a last season push in preparation for championships.

For others, Saturday’s invitational served as much needed experience. The 4×100 relay had not yet posted a time before Roanoke’s competition, making disqualifying errors in previous attempts.

This year’s track team has exhibited tremendous growth, and first-year athletes have been a significant part of that growth. In the past, depth has been an issue for the Generals but this year Coach Spalding has noted a difference.

“First-years Drew Pranka in the 110 and 400 meter hurdles and Hank Patrick in the 3000 meter steeplechase should be conference scorers this spring where we did not pick up points in those events in 2015,” said Spalding

Following their second place finish at Indoor Conference Championships, the Generals have not felt quite this confident in some time and look to build on their success as the spring season unfolds.  And while the strides on the track this season have been notable, above all, the coaching staff has been impressed by the sense of unity this team has established.

“As coaches,” said Spalding, “we are very proud of how supportive our athletes are of each other. They continue to stay motivated week to week whether we are in a long training block or competing often. Handling the ups and downs of a season is hard for any student-athlete at W&L and we feel our student-athletes have done a tremendous job of being great teammates and continuing to train and compete at such a high level this season.”

The Generals will next compete at the Loyola Invitational on April 16 in Baltimore.