The men’s and No. 8 women’s indoor track and field teams will split up and travel across the country for a variety of meets this weekend. Athletes from each team will travel to Boston for the Boston University Valentine Invitational, to Ames, Iowa for the Iowa State Classic, to Geneva, Ohio for the Spire Invitational and to Seattle for the University of Washington Husky Invitational. The Hoyas will look to build off of their early-season momentum and continue to produce historic results.
Junior Sabrina Southerland has continued to make a name for herself as championship season looms on the horizon. In her last meet at the Villanova Invitational at Ocean Breeze, Southerland broke a school record in the women’s 800-meter race with a time of 2:03.10.
Director of Cross Country and Track and Field Michael Smith recognized the significance of this performance for Southerland and lauded her effort and determination.
“We knew from training and the distance medley relay that she was fit and that she was ready,” Smith said. “It was really just a question of [if] could we find a situation that could showcase her fitness right now. And I told her before the race to do this for you because this is an athlete that has a lot of eyes on her, a lot of pressure, and a lot of attention. She was a national champion in high school. So it’s hard to compete like that. So I was just really proud of her. She’s been great. Since her first meet as a freshman, she’s been very consistent in her contributions here.”
Senior Ahmed Bile has also seized milestone opportunities earlier this season. In the BU Scarlet and White Invitational last weekend, he clocked in his fourth sub-four-minute mile of his collegiate career. Bile finished with a time of 3:57.84, which was good enough for first place overall in the men’s invitational mile.
Bile expressed his desire to keep a level head with championship season approaching soon.
“I think [I’m] just making sure I don’t get too excited,” said Bile. “Coach said today at practice that we have to forget about what we did this weekend and come to practice, business as usual. Just making sure you stay healthy. I think we have shown that we are consistent, so as long as we are running every day we will be good.”
Bile led fellow Hoyas graduate student Cole Williams, junior Amos Bartelsmeyer and senior Michael Lederhouse in the men’s invitational mile. Williams (3:57.88), Bartelsmeyer (3:58.22) and Lederhouse (3:58.42) all stayed under four minutes in the event, showcasing the Hoyas’ upperclassmen experience.
But the Hoyas also have depth — freshman Spencer Brown has also experienced success on the collegiate level, running a time of 1:50.24 in the men’s invitational 800m and securing second place overall.
Bile believes that as long as the Hoyas maintain their mental fortitude, they will continue to perform well.
“It was definitely the mental aspect,” said Bile. “I think this year the team is very confident, especially after last year having guys break four [minutes]. We know we can do it, and we know we can do it consistently, so I think the confidence level of the team is a lot higher. We expect more from ourselves.”
The women’s team also witnessed some top performances from its athletes recently. In the invitational women’s mile last weekend, five runners crossed the finish line in the top 11. This group was led by senior Samantha Nadel who ran a time of 4:44.1, capturing fifth place overall. She was followed by sophomore Kennedy Weisner who finished in 4:44.36 for sixth place. Nadel and Weisner led sophomore Autumn Eastman, senior Heather Martin and sophomore Aleta Looker, who ran times of 4:47.12, 4:49.49 and 4:55.73, respectively.
While it is promising to see so much individual success, Coach Smith continues to stress to his athletes the team aspect of track and field.
“He makes sure that we all know each other’s goals and what we want to accomplish so we can all lift each other up in the process, work with each other at practice, and make sure everyone is feeling good,” Southerland said.