Men’s and women’s track teams blow past records left and right

The two teams show that they are strong competition among Division III athletics by breaking school and facility records last weekend.

Kathyrn Young

School records were shattered as the men’s and women’s track team competed at Liberty University’s Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational on Jan. 27.

On the men’s side, the 4×800 record was crushed by over 10 seconds. The quartet of runners included Ian McDonald, ’17, Phillip Harmon, ’17, Cooper Baird, ’19, and MacKenzye Leroy, ’18. They crossed the finish line with a time of 8:04.39 to place third overall. The previous record was set February 28, 1984.

The men were over the moon to have broken the record so early in the season.

“The 4×800 this past weekend was a good rust-buster for all of us considering we haven’t done much speed work so far in our training,” Baird said. “The fact that we were all able to run [around two minutes] this early in the season is a huge confidence booster.”

The boys only race at Liberty was the 4×800, and Leroy said the fact that the four men could just focus on one event that weekend was a great change from most weekends.

The men were also excited to race something different, as the 4×800 race is not a common college race to run.

“It was fun racing a 4×8,” McDonald said. “Everyone was excited to do something different. I hadn’t raced a 4×8 since high school. We were aiming for the school record.”

The close-knit team is always happy when someone breaks a record; it was even more exciting when four were able to do it together. “It is always exciting when someone on the team breaks a record,” Harmon said. “The 4×8 record was special because I got to do it with my friends. Cooper Baird saved the attempt. If he hadn’t finished, we would never have set the record.”

The whole quartet was proud of Baird’s race, claiming they could not have achieved this feat without him.

“We had a bit of a slow start,” McDonald said. “But Cooper Baird was our anchor and he was second team all-ODAC in cross country so everyone knew we were in good hands.”

Leroy agreed and added that Baird has been running great this season too.

“Especially considering he is only a sophomore, [he’s done a great job],” Leroy said. “He was a big factor on this relay.”

The team’s goals for the remainder of the season include winning the ODAC Championships for both indoor and outdoor track.

“Moving forward, I am looking for the team to continue to improve and get healthy,” Harmon said. “If everyone peaks at the right times, we have a shot at winning both ODACs.”

The quartet all agreed their goal for the rest of the year is to win the “triple crown,” or win ODACs in cross country, and indoor and outdoor track.

On the women’s side, Maggie Seybold, ‘19, shattered the 800m indoor record and placed fifth overall among Division I and Division III runners. Seybold crossed the finish line at 2:17.26, breaking the previous record set Feb. 22, 2014 by Annelise Madison, ’14. Seybold already holds the outdoor record for the 800m with a time of 2:15.61.

Although Seybold ran this race alone, she is thankful for her teammates for helping her get to where she is today.

“I think breaking the record sophomore year just speaks to the strength of this team as a whole,” Seybold said. “We’re a really young team and we’re looking forward to being successful and growing as a group in the next few years.”

Seybold continued to point to her team as the reason she has been able to do so well.

“I think it’s easy to thrive as a runner because our team dynamic is so strong,” Seybold said. “We have a really determined dedicated group and it’s just inspiring to come to practice every day.”

Seybold was one of five W&L runners who competed in the 800m. Many of her teammates had memorable races as well. Catherine Fonvielle, ’17, placed third in Division III and Lily Arnold, ’18, placed fourth with a personal-best time of 2:22.38. Additionally, Olivia Cooper, ’20, and Bailey Sanders, ’19, recorded personal-best times in the event.

Samantha Yates, ’19, also had a big race at Liberty. She set a new meet and facility record in the 5000-meter race, placing first out of mostly Division I runners. She crossed the finish line at a career-best 17:44.39.

The teams will hit the ground running again at the Roanoke Invitational on February 10 and 11.