Wolak, Parsons, Spicer, Huntzinger Claim CrownsRICHMOND, VA - With sophomore Matt Wolak (Richmond, VA), senior Chris Parsons (Dunkirk, MD), freshman Steven Huntzinger (Fairfax, VA) and senior Aaron Spicer (Woodbridhe, VA) all claiming individual crowns on Saturday, William and Mary men's track and field successfully defended its 2003 title by winning the 2004 Colonial Athletic Association Track and Field Championship. The Tribe tallied 185 points over the 22 events, ahead of runner-up Virginia Commonwealth (161) and third-place UNC Wilmington (136.5). Overall, the College boasted seven individual titlists in eight events and had numerous all-conference performers, a distinction awarded to the top-three finishers in each event. Athletes could score points for their team by placing in the top-eight of an event. Event champions received automatic qualifications to the NCAA East Regional and IC4A championships, except in the 10,000m and decathlon where there is no NCAA Regional qualifier for nationals.
The highlight of Saturday's action was the stellar performance of the Tribe's throwing corps. Parsons, who had already won the hammer on Friday, claimed another championship by winning the shot with an NCAA Regional and IC4A qualifying and throw of 54'7.5". Punctuating the effort with a personal record, Parsons ends his career as a five-time CAA champion. Huntzinger claimed runner-up honors in the event with his own career best of 54'3.75", breaking both the NCAA Regional and IC4A marks., while junior Aaron Mitchell (Buffalo, NY), named a CAA Athlete of the Week this Tuesday, completed the Tribe sweep of those receiving all-conference honors in the shot by taking third place with an IC4A-qualifying distance of 52'9.5". Junior Nick Hecker-Thompson (Seattle, WA) scored for the squad in the shot as well, finishing sixth by throwing for 48'0.75". Huntzinger went on to capture his own CAA crown by winning the discus with a throw of 150'0", impressing the field in his first conference championship. Parsons netted All-CAA acclaim with his third in the event (143'6") while Hecker-Thompson again scored valuable points with his fifth-place effort (139'9"). The win meant the Green and Gold swept the throwing events, going a perfect four-for-four as junior Andy Smith (Raleigh, NC) won the javelin title on Friday.
Spicer, who was fourth halfway through the decathlon after yesterday's events, took control this afternoon and went on to win his first conference title. Spicer totaled a personal-best score of 5,893 points as the College continued its stranglehold on the event. Since its introduction in 2000, W&M has won the decathlon four of the five years, with Phil Agee ('03) taking the title in 2000, 2001 and 2003 and Spicer claiming this year's edition.
Wolak led the Tribe's effort on the track today, claiming the CAA crown in the 800m in a wire-to-wire victory with a personal-record time of 1:53.01, but the race was not without drama. Wolak prevailed in a photo finish, besting second-place by only .02 seconds, after purposely setting a torrid early pace to draw the field up and drain its energy. The strategy then called for freshman teammate Matt Warco (McMurray, PA) to charge through the depleted pack and score an easy win for the Tribe, but when Warco was tripped just shy of the 400m mark, Wolak was forced to carry the squad's hopes on his own shoulders the rest of the way. Despite running an exhausting early pace, Wolak was able to sustain his advantage until the end of the race in a display of true grit, leaning forward at the line to seize the win and the automatic NCAA Regional and IC4A bids. Sophomore Robert Pitts (Washington, DC) also scored in the event for the squad, taking seventh at the clip of 1:57.31.
Junior Jeff Hedley (Virginia Beach, VA) challenged for the title in the 1,500m before claiming second place for all-conference honors with a time of 3:53.01. The Tribe also took fifth through eighth place in the race to lock away more points. Junior Bill Tarantino (Woodbridge, VA) led the pack with a career-fast time of 3:58.35, ahead of freshman David Murphy (Warwick, RI) in sixth (3:59.07), sophomore Graham Kearney (Richmond, VA) in seventh (4:00.10) and freshman Joel Parker (Portsmouth, VA) in eighth, who ran a personal record 4:02.98. Sophomore Bill Patchak (Newton Square, PA) just missed scoring for the team with his ninth-place time of 4:04.01. W&M also claimed three of the top-five positions in the 3,000m steeplechase as sophomore Mike Dominguez (Herndon, VA) led the team with his second-place performance of 9:47.85. Also grabbing all-conference honors was freshman Anthony Arena (Manassas, VA) who clocked a 9:52.84 for third. Junior Jon Healey (Wayne, NJ) scored for the team with his fifth-place effort of 9:59.72.
Sophomore Justin Benabdallah (Natick, MA) enjoyed a solid day of sprinting as a double scorer. Benabdallah first claimed eighth in the 100m on the strength of a personal record 10.94 before taking eighth in the 200m with a 22.55. Both of the College's relay teams scored as the 4x400m team of freshman Steve Gillard (Herndon, VA), Wolak, Pitts and Warco combined to run a 3:22.58 for fifth. In the 4x100m, sophomore James Hipolit (Lititz, PA), Benabdallah, sophomore Nathan Chubb (Doylestown, PA) and sophomore Noah Gabriel-Landis (Underhill, VT) clocked a 43.96 for sixth. Hipolit ran a personal record of 15.89 for tenth in the 100m hurdles.
On Friday the Tribe had four individuals champions as well, including freshman Keith Bechtol (Alexandria, VA) in the 5,000m, sophomore Matt Keally (Virginia Beach, VA) in the 10,000m, Parsons in the hammer and Smith in the javelin.
The team championship marked the second CAA title for first-year head coach Alex Gibby, who was a CAA champion in the 5,000m as a runner for the Tribe. After successfully defending the College's cross country crown in the fall, Gibby has brought home another trophy.
"We graduated 17 seniors last year and brought in 14 freshman, but the result was the same," Gibby said. "It was a fantastic championship, with 33 of our 35 guys scoring, and the two who didn't weren't running their main event. Senior leadership meant a whole lot, and our throwers really sparked our energy today."
The Tribe is back in action this Thursday through Saturday at the prestigious Penn Relays in Philadelphia, PA. A contingent from the squad will also contest the Christopher Newport Invitational on Saturday, April 24.
CAA Men's Track and Field Championships Final Team Standings
1. William & Mary, 185 2. VCU, 161 3. UNC Wilmington, 136.50 4. Delaware, 94 5. JMU, 87.50 6. George Mason, 81.50 7. Towson, 69.50