A versatile core of returning athletes coupled with a large and talented group of newcomers has Washington and Lee Head Men's Track & Field Coach Nate Hoey looking to continue his team's upward trend as the 2010-11 season is set to begin.
Following an admittedly disappointing conference indoor meet (7th place), W&L rebounded to post a fifth-place finish at the outdoor meet to cap what was a much more successful outdoor campaign last year.
"I am excited, cautiously optimistic if you will," proclaimed Hoey. "We have some good returning athletes and I think that the first-year class we have can supplement them very well."
Most notable among the returnees is junior captain, "Mr. Everything", Tyler Grant. The school record holder in the decathlon, Grant has an excellent chance to qualify for NCAA's in the event after narrowly missing the cut a year ago.
"He is really versatile and a tremendous athlete for us," noted Hoey. "He is going to be able to score in a variety of events and could contend in the 400m hurdles at the outdoor meet."
Fellow captains, seniors David Doobin and Davis Franklin, will look to add leadership and consistency to this young team.
Doobin is expected to make a run at all-conference honors in the triple and high jumps after experiencing a breakout season in 2009-10, while Franklin adds depth and experience to the middle distance events.
Sophomore Dylan Mills returns as the ODAC Champion in the javelin, having thrown a school-record distance of 173'03.00" at the conference meet.
"He has the ability to push the qualifying mark for nationals," said Hoey.
Joining Mills in the throwing events will be sophomore Matt Benson. A starting offensive lineman for the ODAC Champion football team, Benson has the size and strength to be a force in both the shot put and the hammer throw.
Sophomore Steven Colliau, also a member of the football team, is one of W&L's top returning sprinters, having narrowly missed all-conference laurels as a first-year. He is expected to be in the mix in both the 200m and the 400m at the conference meets and will also be a valuable contributor to 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams.
Junior Matt Gossett has the ability to push for all-conference recognition in the middle distance events, as does sophomore Wayde Marsh.
Marsh, who will join the team following the conclusion of W&L's swimming season, will look to contend for all-conference honors in the 800m.
Supplementing his returning athletes are a group of first-years that Hoey is eager to see in action on the track in order to see what they are capable of. If preseason practice is any indication, Hoey will not be disappointed once the season commences.
W&L gets the 2010-11 campaign underway on Saturday when it competes at the Marietta First Glance Invitational.