March 28, 2008
UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND, Va. - Sophomore Andrew Benford narrowly missed an NCAA Regional qualifying mark, but the sophomore broke the meet record in the 3,000m steeplechase as the Fourth Annual Fred Hardy Invitational kicked off Friday afternoon at the University of Richmond. The action concludes Saturday with 14 events on the schedule.
Benford recorded one of the fastest times for a sophomore in school history in winning the 3,000m steeplechase by nearly 30 seconds. His time of 9:07.21 broke the two-year old standard of 9:13.16 held by former Spider John Ciccarelli in 2006 and was just .21 seconds shy of the NCAA Regional qualifying standard of 9:07.00.
Senior Jonathan Molz took the silver (9:31.07), as the two Spiders separated from the pack on the final laps. Calvin Virgilio was fifth in a time of 10:54.35.
"The steeple was a great race and we went 1-2," said men's track & field head coach Steve Taylor. "Andrew ran an excellent race and his time set a new meet record and just missed the regional qualifying mark. This is the first time he has ever run the steeple, so to perform so well is outstanding. He and Jon worked together and pulled away from their competition on the second lap. I was happy with the way they ran."
Also for the men, the 4x800m relay of Greg Hoffman, Derek Jensen, Sean Welsh and Jeff Strojny took second in a time of 7:50.25.
"That relay ran pretty well for this early season," said Taylor. "They were second today, but we know they have more time to drop."
On the women's side, Erin Lunny and Kylee Schuler took second and third, respectively, in the 5,000m. Lunny finished is 18:19.59, while Schuler posted a time of 18:24.56.
"Erin ran well this evening setting a personal best in the 5,000," said women's track & field head coach Lori Taylor. "She got faster throughout the race and certainly will run faster this season."
In the field events, Samella Koroma was fourth in the shot put (12.22m) and fifth in the hammer throw (42.11m). Monica Howard took fifth in the shot (11.79m), while Stephanie Lapp was sixth in the hammer throw (40.48m) and K'Lynn Robinson was 10th in the hammer (33.85m).
Benford's record in the 3,000m steeplechase was one of five meet records to fall on Day One. William & Mary's Betsy Graney set both a meet and facility record in the 3,000m steeple (10:55.60), as did the Tribe's Nicole Kazuba in the pole vault (3.86m). The William & Mary women's 4x800 relay also set meet and facility records (8:58.87).
Day One's most impressive performance went to Anthony Wallace who competed unattached in the men's long jump. He broke the 31-year old facility record of 7.73m held by track & field great LaMonte King (USA Junior Team) and his own meet record of 7.60m set last year. Today he soared to what currently stands as the top outdoor performance in the nation with his 7.75m jump, narrowly missing the USA Olympic Team Trials qualifying standard of 7.80m.
"That was a tremendous jump." said Steve Taylor. "Add to that it's only March and it makes it even more impressive."
Action resumes Saturday at 9 a.m. at the President's Field with the discus. The triple jump kicks off the action at the Fred Hardy Track Facility at First Market Stadium at 10 a.m. Live video streaming coverage of Saturday's events is available at RichmondSpiders.com.
"We had an excellent crowd and our athletes were thrilled to see President Ayers attend the meet," said Steve Taylor. "We're looking forward to tomorrow as there should be some excellent races in store."