In 2012-13, the men's track and field team suffered injuries throughout the indoor season, but the team responded during the outdoor season to place third at the ODAC Championship with 138.5 points. It marked the highest total for the Generals since scoring 162 in 1994.
W&L returns 18 competitors from last year's team, and brings in 11 newcomers to complete the roster of 29. Out of the 18 returners, 12 scored at one of the conference meets last season.
The Generals will rely on the leadership of senior captains Kevin Sullivan and Kane Thomas. Sullivan finished third at the ODAC outdoor meet in the javelin, while Thomas finished fourth in the outdoors 800m.
"They are the extension of me and what I'm looking for within the team," third-year Head Coach Brandon Uhl said. "They are the voice to the team and lead not just by what they say but by what they do on and off the track and field."
The core of the Blue and White this season will be the sprinters. Senior Zander Tallman has qualified for the NCAA Indoor National Championship once and the Outdoor National Championship two times.
"Zander is going to be a key factor in the 200m and the 400m," Uhl noted. "He dealt with injuries during the indoor season last year, but was able to come back in the spring and lead us at the outdoor championship."
Not only did Tallman win the outdoor 400m title for the third time, but he was also the anchor leg for the 4x100m relay that won the ODAC title and broke the W&L school record. All four members of the quartet, Tallman, seniors Cole Glasgow and Agustin Kim and junior Aaron Jeong, are back this season. The group has a goal of qualifying for nationals during the outdoor season.
"We just missed qualifying in the 4x100m last year," Uhl explained. "The guys want to qualify as much as I want them to. I expect them to have that motivation, especially during a long year, because it keeps you working hard."
Along with the top finish in the 4x100 relay, Jeong placed second in the 100m at outdoors and sixth in the 200m. During the indoor season, he took fourth in the 60m. The Generals also claimed the 4x400m relay title at the outdoor championship. The team returns senior Parker Howard and Tallman from the foursome.
Thomas is the senior leader of the distance group, but the team will also rely on first-year Mac Strehler and sophomore Ian McDonald. Strehler will be a major contributor in the long distance races (5,000m and 10,000m), while McDonald can have an impact in the mid-distance events such as the mile and 1,500m.
"We are going to try and fill all the distance events, which we haven't done in the past," Uhl stated. "We believe we are creating more depth, so we can fill those events and get more points. I like where we are headed with the distance side."
In the field events, senior David Fishman has been a staple in the pole vault over his three seasons. Last year, he claimed fourth at the indoor and outdoor championships.
"Dave will be an important part for us," Uhl explained. "I'd like to believe he is going to place in at least the Top 3 at both the indoor and outdoor meet."
Mostly sophomores and first-years will fill the other field events for the Generals. Sophomore Jamaal Jones will be one of the team's top athletes in the long jump after competing in the event five times last year.
"Jamaal is looking strong as he seems to be more fit this year than he was last year," Uhl stated. "He has an opportunity to do good things in the long jump, as long as he makes the strides that we believe he can."
In the high jump and triple jump, the Generals will look to first-year Harrison DeKnight to step in and possibly provide points in each event.
"He is pretty raw, but he has that explosiveness that you can't teach," Uhl said. "By the end of the year he will have the opportunity to make an impact for us, because he is coachable, which is huge."
The youth movement will continue in the throwing events where first-year Patrick Robertson will compete in the shot put, weight throw, hammer throw and discus. In high school, he set the Norfolk Academy record in the discus and was his team's MVP last year.
"He is a worker and has a great attitude," Uhl noted. "Patrick is someone that by shear determination will score at a conference meet."
In the javelin, Sullivan returns after earning All-ODAC honors in 2013. He finished third, behind two other W&L athletes.
The Generals were recently picked to finish third in the men's indoor track and field preseason coaches' poll. The indoor championship will be on March 2 in Hampton, Va., while the outdoor meet is April 18-19 hosted by Eastern Mennonite.
Practice started in the fall for the Blue and White, and competitions will continue even past the conference meets. With such a long season, the team has a couple of goals that they focus on day in and day out.
"We want to execute, but we also want to enjoy the process of getting there," Uhl remarked. "Since it is such a long year, dating back to practice in the fall, we have to enjoy the process, so that when we get to those championship meets we can be in the moment and enjoy it."
Due to the way the NCAA and academic calendar fell this season, W&L did not get to compete in a meet before the winter break. The Generals will open the year at the Liberty Kick Off this weekend.