Track and Field Returns from A-10 Championship

Sam Thomas-

Sarah Sears ‘18 put on a show at the A-10 conference championships this past weekend, winning two individual A-10 titles. Photo courtesy of Dan Petty and the Atlantic 10 conference.

“I think I’m still in disbelief,” said senior captain Sarah Sears after an absolutely incredible performance. For the second straight year, the Atlantic 10 Indoor Track and Field Most Outstanding Track Athlete is coming home with the Wildcats. Sears, after capturing A-10 titles in the 5k and mile to complement a fourth place finish in the 3k, earned the honors after scoring 25 points for the Wildcats.

On Saturday night, Sears opened up her weekend with a dominant seven second victory in 16:28. “I set a goal to win the indoor 5k title after being runner-up in cross country in October, and I knew it was probably my best shot at a title because my legs would be fresh on the first day of the meet,” said Sears. The Saturday night victory was followed up by another victory in the mile on Sunday morning in a time of 4:51.

“I knew winning the mile was a possibility if everything went right, but I wasn’t banking on it. It ended up being a mix of patience, luck, and choosing the right moment to break away from the pack,” said Sears on the race. This was followed up by the 3k, which, Sears noted, “was only two and a half hours after the mile, so it was just a matter of giving it everything I had left.” Give it all she did, finishing through the fatigue of a huge in a fourth place finish in a time of 9:54.

Had it not been for Sears’s sensational weekend, however, the talk would be about the weekend junior Caroline Yarbrough put together. Yarbrough worked with Sears through the first 3800 meters of the 5k and showed tenacity and resilience with a second place finish behind Sears in 16:35. This race was followed up by another runner-up finish in the 3k the next afternoon with a time of 9:45. The two second place finishes accounted for a total of 16 team points to Yarbrough’s name. Both Yarbrough and Sears individually scored more than three of the teams in the A-10 team competition.

Several other members of the women’s team found the podium. Senior Stephanie Hautamaa placed third in the pole vault after vaulting 3.65 meters, which is about 12 feet. The height marked a personal best for Hautamaa. Furthermore, the women’s 4×800 relay of junior Claire Nieusma, sophomore Katie Macturk, junior Sophia Mills, and sophomore Maddie Hunter placed third in a time of 9:14. Mills posted the fastest time of the relay team with a time of 2:16.

On the men’s side, Head Coach Renny Waldron noted, “This was a great experience for our team. We took 16 guys to the meet and for 10 of them this was their first Indoor A-10 Championship. Our captains – Sean Caveney and Brady Logan – continue to lead by example and had a great meet.” Caveney finished fifth in the 60m hurdles in a time of 8.37 and ran the 400m leg of the distance medley relay, which placed ninth. Logan won the shot put by half a meter with a throw of 16.52 meters, which is over 54 feet, and placed twelfth in the weight throw with a throw of 13.43 meters.

Logan, a junior, was very proud of the performance he put together this past weekend in which he defended his A-10 title in the shot put from last year’s Outdoor Track and Field season. Said Logan, “I feel really good coming out of this meet.  Everything just clicked for me.  It wasn’t just one good throw, I was constantly throwing far.  As long as I can ride this momentum, I should throw even farther during this outdoor season.” His conference winning throw put him in the top 200 shot put throws in the NCAA this winter.

Waldron also highlighted a couple of breakthrough performances from the Indoor Track and Field Championship. Waldron said, “Dylan Carmack getting 3rd in both the 5k and 3k, and in the process beating some excellent runners who came in with better PRs – this was a HUGE step in the right direction for Dylan and our team. Miles Hollimon getting 3rd and Nick Peeples getting 7th in the 200, and being the fastest freshman in that event was a great sign for things to come.”

Carmack, who scored 12 points for the men’s team with his two podium finishes, commented on his preparation; “I have a lot of trust in my coach and training, and I know that if I follow his instructions during the race that I will be happy with the outcome. In both races I moved up to near the front of the pack after the first few laps and I stayed there as the pack was slowly whittling down.”

The noted progress and success of first-years Nick Peeples and Miles Hollimon show a general trend and excitement for both the men’s and women’s teams as we approach the Outdoor Track and Field season in the spring. Both teams have lots of young talent, with many first years scoring valuable points very early in the careers. In addition to Peeples and Hollimon,  first-year Daniel Alvarez-Orlachia, who scored points in the 1000m dash, and the entire 4×800 relay of fellow first-years Taylor Drake, Max Higgins, Iain Anderson, and Alvarez-Orlachia, who placed seventh, are composed entirely of first years. On the women’s side, first-year Eleni Daughters scored finished fifth in the 800m dash as just a first-year. All of these performances bode well for the future of Wildcat Track and Field.

Said Waldron, “We are a much better team outdoors, simply because we get back Jacob Hostetler, who has scored in the 200 and 400 at the A-10 Championships, and George Williams, who was 5th at the indoor championship last year (unfortunately George came down with the flu and wasn’t able to participate this weekend). Those two also bookend our 4×400, so they play very important roles for our team. We also have events like the 400 hurdles and the steeplechase, which offers scoring opportunities for us. We should pick up a significant amount of points outdoors, and our young team will be much better off having gone through the indoor championship experience.” It is an exciting time for both the men’s and women’s teams, and big things await them as they approach the Outdoor Track and Field season.