Winter sports gear up for season

Swimming, wrestling, basketball and track and field are preparing for competition


The Washington and Lee wrestling team has started practice. Photo by Riley Parker, ’23.

Riley Parker

As the leaves are changing, Washington and Lee’s fall athletic teams are approaching their final games. The Generals are gearing up for the 2019-2020 winter sports seasons.

Men’s and women’s swimming kicked off their seasons in mid-September, when both teams achieved wins over Mary Washington in their first competition on October 11. The teams are led by coaches Kami Gardner, Logan LaBerge and Paul Ellis.

“Our main goal is to develop the strongest team possible through smart training, hard work and communication,” Gardner said. “We focus on the daily process goals in order to achieve fast swimming in our championship season.”

The men’s team won five ODAC Championships in a row. The women’s team won the past 12 ODAC Championships and have not lost a dual meet since November 2017.

The following students are returning NCAA All-American athletes:   Patrick Sullivan, ’21, Evan Kramer, ’20, Emily Hageboeck, ’20, Ali MacQueen, ’20, Caroline Baber, ’22, Claudia Barnett, ’22 and Turner Bobbitt, ’22, all of whom are returning NCAA All-Americans.

Head Coach Nathan Shearer and Assistant Coach Alex Radsky of the wrestling team coached the 2018-19 team to their first ever NCAA team ranking in Washington and Lee history and their highest dual meet win percentage since the 1984-85 season. But Shearer said winning isn’t the only goal this season.

“I don’t care if you win 20 matches in a row, that 21st match is the same approach as if it’s a National Final,” Shearer said. “It’s about preparing the best we can and having our best performances within ourselves at that time.”

The wrestling team is led by a quintet of seniors: Colby Boudreau, Shane Conners, Alec Horner, Andrew Taylor and Rexx Hallyburton. Hallyburton is an NCAA tournament qualifier from last season. The wrestlers begin competing on November 9 at the Washington and Jefferson Invitational.

Chris McHugh, ’09, begins his third season as head coach of the men’s basketball team. He is assisted by Coach Matt Williams, who is in his second year of coaching the Generals. Together, they coached the team to a 19-8 record last season. The team returns five starters: Curtis Mitchell, ’21, Will Brueggeman, ’21, and Mark Lamendola, ’22, as well as captains Kevin Dennin, ’20 and Mark Croughan, ’20.

“We have a great group of guys that work very hard on and off the court. We hope to build an identity of playing hard, fast, and together,” McHugh said. “We hope to compete for and ODAC regular season championship, ODAC tournament championship, and an NCAA National Championship.”

The women’s basketball head coach, Christine Clancy, led the team during the 2018-19 season which tied for most successful in school history with a 19-9 record. This season, she is accompanied by new assistant coach Sarah Assante. The team this year has three seniors: Taylor Casey, Molly Mann and Andy Smithey.

This is the eighth season for coaches Brandon Uhl and Brandon Spalding of the men’s track and field team coaching alongside each other. The men’s team have been ODAC Indoor Champions for the past three seasons. This year’s team highlighters include sprinter Donovan Fiore  ’20, pole vaulter and high hurdler Joe O’Connor, ‘22, thrower Jay Roberts, ’20, and distance runner Austin Kinne ’20.

“Every member of our team is key in our growth and success,” Uhl said. “We obviously have some men who have the ability to compete at a higher level than others, but the effort and attitude that each person brings daily is important.”

Coach Dana Freeman and Assistant Coach Michael Dager of the women’s track and field team currently have a roster with 48 athletes.

“One of the strengths of the team this year is our roster size” Freeman said. “The 2019-20 Women’s Track and Field team is the largest Women’s Track and Field team in W&L’s history. We have depth and energy in every event area.”