Men’s track wins second-straight indoor ODAC championship

The men’s track team had many top finishes at the ODAC indoor track championship that led to its first place finish

Men’s track celebrates its second-straight ODAC trophy. Photo courtesy of W&L Sports Info

Men’s track celebrates its second-straight ODAC trophy. Photo courtesy of W&L Sports Info

Tanner Smith, Sports Writer

In a title bout that came down to the last round, the men’s track and field team was able to come out on top of Bridgewater College by a margin of four points in the indoor track ODAC championship for the second consecutive year.

The Generals won the meet over the Eagles by a final score of 169.5 to 165.5. The meet was hosted at Roanoke College on Feb. 25. The two teams each pulled away from their other challengers, as third place Lynchburg finished with a score of 79.

W&L and Bridgewater were neck-in-neck throughout the competition. In the second to last event, the 3,000-meter race, the Generals were able to take the lead for good, as Hank Patrick, ‘19, finished second with a time of 9:00.10, MacKenzye Leroy, ‘18, finished third (9:02.44), Austin Kinne, ’20, in fourth (9:04.32) and Alex Dolwick, ’20, in fifth (9:05.03). For Patrick, it was a moment in which everything came full circle.

“Last year I got to watch as we won the meet in the 3K and got the last points that we needed to beat Bridgewater,” Patrick said. “That was really inspirational to watch, as we had some really great runners that graduated last year. This year, I was in that group of younger athletes who really had to step it up and fill those shoes. I wasn’t sure that I could and that the rest of us could. But then to see us go two through five in that event and do everything we needed to do to seal up the ODAC…I am going to remember that.”

The 3,000-meter race was a high point in the drama, as going into the event the Generals were down by 10 points. Leroy, who finished the meet as the leader in total points with 26 and claimed individual wins in the mile (4:26.80) and the 800-meter (1:58.64), was entered in the event, but was not expected to run it until a last-second strategy change made it a reality.

“We had options and we entered MacKenzye into the 3K as well as the mile and the 800-meter with the thought that we hopefully would not have to use him,” said Head Coach Brandon Uhl, who was named ODAC Coach of the Year. “But the way the meet played out, if we didn’t have him run, we wouldn’t have had those points and we don’t win a team championship. There was a conversation with MacKenzye and asked him if he was willing to do this because it is going to affect your individual chances of qualifying for Nationals in two weeks. He, being a selfless teammate and a leader as a captain, decided that he wanted to be a part of this.”

Patrick has seen this type of sacrifice from Leroy in the past. He also said he thinks it set the tone for the entire team.

“I very much admire him and, I don’t know if he would say this about himself, but I think he leads by example,” Patrick said. “On multiple occasions, including this past weekend, he has put the team in front of himself. If it is a choice between the team and himself doing a little bit better, he always chooses the team.”

Leroy said the meet surpassed his highest expectations going into his last indoor ODAC championship.

“It means a lot personally to be a part of both of those,” Leroy said. “It meant a lot last year, since it was the first time since the ‘80s, and I was happy to be a part of the 3K that ended it. Going into the meet Sunday, I didn’t really think we could have a more exciting track meet than that, but then the way this one played out with us being down late, having great performances in the shot put late to help us, having a great 3K again and then it came down to the 4x400m. To be a part of that is really awesome. It is really nice to end with a win. We won my last cross country race, we won this and now I want to finish it with outdoor.”

Leroy went on to register a five-second personal best in the mile at the Tufts National Qualifying Meet at Roanoke College on March 3.

The Division III Men’s and Women’s Indoor Track and Field NCAA Championship will take place later this week, from March 9-10.