UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND, Va. - The Richmond men's and women's track & field teams travel northward this weekend for the Atlantic 10 Indoor Championships in Kingston, R.I. The two-day meet, hosted by Rhode Island, is set to begin on Friday at 9 a.m. in the Rams' Mackal Field House with day two action also scheduled to start at 9 a.m.
"We have several experienced student-athletes and a large group of underclassmen heading to Rhode Island for this weekend's championships," said Director of Track & Field and head women's coach Lori Taylor. "As we look at the events, we feel our athletes are coming into the meet in a great place. We've had some great early season performances and already three school records set on the women's team this winter in the 4x800m, 3000m and pole vault. Additionally, our freshmen men and women have been making a statement. Our athletes are looking forward to the opportunity to compete this weekend and doing so with intensity."
Redshirt senior Nicol Traynor (Basking Ridge, N.J./Ridge) will lead the Spiders on the women's side. A 2011 All-American in the steeplechase, Traynor earned her second-career A-10 Performer of the Week honor in January after clocking a 9:40.63 in the 3,000 Meters at Virginia Tech's Hokie Invitational to shatter the school record previously held by Spider standout Amy Van Alstine by five seconds. Her time currently ranks second in the conference this season.
Traynor's time of 4:46.57 in the Mile recorded recently at the New Balance Collegiate Invite currently paces the league by more than four seconds, while sophomore Alli Mannon (Litiz, Pa./Warwick) ranks ninth in the event with a time of 4:58.56. Traynor leads five Spiders in the league's top 10 in the 1000 Meters with a time of 2:51.43. Two-time A-10 Rookie of the Week Taylor Clevinger (Mechanicsville, Va./Saint Catherine's School) ranks just behind in third (2:52.11).
Clevinger has also clocked the conference's seventh-best mark in the 800 Meters with a 2:14.48 finish at the Navy Classic, while redshirt freshman Alyson McGonigle is right behind in 10th with her time of 2:14.84. In relay action, the tandem teamed up with Mannon and junior Stephanie Paradis (Leesburg, Va./Stone Bridge) for a time of 8:57.30 in the 4x800 Meter Relay to break a 30-year-old school record and capture the conference's top time in the event by better than seven seconds.
Clevinger, McGonigle, Paradis and Traynor have combined for an impressive showing in the DMR as well. The quartet clocked a winning time of 11:51.34 to set a new Wesley A. Brown Field House record at the Navy Classic. Their finish is the second-fastest among A-10 squads this season.
Senior Meaghan McGovern (North Kingston, R.I./North Kingston), who ranks fifth league-wide with her toss of 15.67m (51'5") in the weight throw at CNU's Vince Brown Invitational, looks to close out her collegiate indoor career with an impressive showing in the event. Sophomore Grace Gibson (Virginia Beach, Va./Princess Anne) is set to continue her strong sophomore season in the pole vault after breaking her own school in the event with a leap of 3.40m (11'1.75") at UNC's Dick Taylor Invitational.
On the men's side, freshman Andrew Valenski (Massapequa, N.Y./Massapequa) enters his first indoor conference meet ranked eighth among A-10 runners in the 3,000 Meters with a time of 8:29.09. Sophomore Ryan Lee (Wilmington, Del./Archmere Academy) is listed as 14th with a time of 8:33.75.
Valenski also ranks 14th in the Mile after his finish of 4:16.97 at George Mason's Patriot Games, while classmate Billy Fayette (Clarendon Hills, Ill./Hinsdale) sits in 16th following his time of 4:17.31 in Fairfax. Fellow newcomer Matthew Groff (Landisville, Pa./Hempfield) ranks just outside the league's top-15 in the 1,000 Meters with a time of 2:30.65.
Senior Devin Cassels (Lewisburg, Pa./Lewisburg Area) is ranked 12th in the pole vault after turning in the top collegiate jump of 4.22m (13'10") at the Vince Brown Invite, while freshman Austin Locke (Brentwood, Tenn./Montgomery Bell Academy) is slotted 12th in the shot put (11.71m/38'5") after establishing personal bests every week of the indoor season.
The Spider women took eighth at the 2011 conference meet with 23 points, and the men posted 35 points to finish ninth. Rhody won last year's men's title with Dayton prevailing on the women's side.
"Our men and women are looking forward to this weekend's championships," said head men's coach Steve Taylor. "Our conference has gotten better and stronger every season over the past 10 years, and this year I believe it's possibly the deepest in league history across all events. There are many exceptional athletes representing our various schools, and we certainly have several wearing a Spider uniform. As always, the competition will be fanatical."
Stay updated on this weekend's conference meet and all the latest Spider Track & Field news and notes right here on RichmondSpiders.com. While a recap can be found after each day of action, live results will also be provided following the conclusion of each event. More in-depth coverage can also be found on Coach Taylor's blog and by following him on Twitter.