After missing out on the Old Dominion Athletic Conference Championship last year by just 18.5 points at the indoor meet, the Washington and Lee women's track and field team is looking to be right in contention for a championship this season.
"Our goals are simple," 10th-year head coach Nate Hoey said. "Every year we want to put ourselves in a position to compete for the ODAC Championships, and then advance as many people as possible on to the NCAA National Championships."
Hoey's squad returns 15 point scorers from 2012, when the team took second at the Indoor ODAC Championship and third at the Outdoor ODAC Championship. The Generals will miss Natalie Stier '12, who graduated last spring, but bring in 17 newcomers to an already impressive team.
"This is a strong and deep group," Hoey said. "It is the most newcomers we've had in my time. They are going to fill out the event areas we were light on in previous seasons, and give us some much-needed depth. We are looking forward to them stepping in right away and making an immediate impact."
The new faces will be joining a team that returns 13 All-ODAC performers and three individual champions from last year's championships.
In the middle distance and distance events, the Generals return a wealth of talent in seniors Lauren Schultz, Molly Ortiz and Teresa Soley, and juniors Annelise Madison, Brandie Huffman and Katie Driest.
"The distance crew has always been a rock for us," Hoey said. "Lauren is a team captain who consistently leads by example, Molly had a fantastic cross-country season where she qualified for nationals, and Annelise pulled off the crazy triple last year at the outdoor meet, scoring in the 800, 1,500 and 5,000 meters (minus one shoe)."
Schultz is a two-time NCAA cross country qualifier, a 2011 ODAC Champion in the 3000m steeplechase and an All-ODAC runner last season. Ortiz earned All-ODAC honors in the DMR and steeplechase last season. Madison won the mile at the indoor championship and earned All-ODAC honors in two other events. Huffman earned All-ODAC laurels in the 5,000m and Soley scored in the 10,000m, while Driest earned All-ODAC honors as a member of the runner-up DMR.
In the sprints and hurdles, the Generals are led by returning ODAC champion, sophomore Janey Fugate, and senior Marissa Thompson. Fugate won the 400m hurdles at the outdoor championship in her first season with a school and ODAC Championship meet-record time of 1:03.59 (breaking the records held by Stier). She was also a member of the 4x400m relay, along with Julia Murray, Stier and Lauren Woodie, that took third with a school-record time of 4:02.69.
"Janey has been really committed to the weight room in the off-season and the fall," Hoey said. "As a returning ODAC Champion, she has big goals and her competitive mindset will put her in a position to reach them."
Thompson was an individual ODAC Champion in 2011 in the 60m, 100m and 200m. Last season, she earned All-ODAC honors in four events, all while battling injuries. She is the school record holder in the 60m (8.04), 100m (12.65) and the triple jump (10.62m).
W&L also returns juniors Julia Murray and Lauren Woodie, both All-ODAC performers last season. Murray was a finalist in the 200m and a member of the All-ODAC 4x400m and 4x100m relays. Woodie is a versatile sprinter who earned All-ODAC honors in the DMR and 4x400m relay. Senior Paige Gance returns after scoring in the 400m Hurdles last season and looks to build on her strong junior campaign.
"The sprints and hurdles group has been steadily developing in recent years," Hoey said. "Last year we advanced four athletes to the final of the 60m hurdles and had four score in the 400m hurdles."
Washington and Lee is deep in the jumping events, and senior Taylor Maxey headlines the throwers for the Generals. Maxey placed second in the discus last season at ODAC's after winning the event in 2011. Maxey holds the school record in the discus (38.58m) and the hammer throw (37.09m).
"The throwers have been steadily improving, and are led by Taylor," Hoey remarked. "She is a dynamic and strong thrower with unlimited potential."
In the pole vault, sophomore Jillian Katterhagen claimed both the indoor and outdoor ODAC titles. She just missed out on going to NCAA's in her first season. Katterhagen holds the school record in the pole vault (3.60m). She is also a versatile athlete who scored in the hurdles. Junior Alex Hagen also returns in the pole vault, after taking second behind her teammate at the indoor meet in 2012.
The Generals other captain, junior Leigh Dannhauser, earned All-ODAC honors in the high jump last season. She also scored in the pole vault and javelin for W&L. Sophomore Mary Kamp returns in the high jump after scoring last season.
"The jumpers have steadily developed," Hoey noted. "This year we will have a stronger presence in all four events (long jump, triple jump, high jump and pole vault)."
Washington and Lee will compete in one event before the New Year, and then will hit the ground running in 2013 with two events in January in preparation for the ODAC Championship.
"We are excited for the 2013 season ahead," Hoey said. "We have a unique combination of experienced returners and youthful energy which makes for a balanced squad and an outstanding team atmosphere.
"We steer the indoor season towards the Lafayette/Rider Winter Games at the Armory in New York on February 8," he added. "Strong performances there will lead us to where we want to be at the Indoor ODAC Championship Meet on February 22."
With the Indoor NCAA Championships taking place on March 8 and 9, the outdoor season starts on March 16 at the Lynchburg Open. Washington and Lee will host the Carnival meet on March 22 and 23 as well as the 2013 Outdoor ODAC Championship on April 19 and 20.
The Generals open competition this weekend (Nov. 30 & Dec. 1) at the Liberty Kick Off.
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