Mary Baldwin University’s maiden outdoor track season is about to begin. For the first time in school history, the Fighting Squirrels will compete in outdoor track as an NCAA varsity sport.
Former athletic director Sharon Spalding worked for many years to make track a reality for MBU student-athletes. With the success of both cross country and the VWIL program, track was a natural fit for MBU.
There are 19 athletes on the roster of mixed experience. Because MBU had not offered the sport before, some athletes have not competed in track for a couple of years, but had been competitive in high school. Now they have the opportunity to toe the line once again.
Head Coach Heather Ely is excited to see the team compete this weekend. “They’ve been working hard--and I think they have enjoyed being out on the track pushing themselves,” said Ely of her team. Because this is a new sport for MBU, she doesn’t know exactly what to expect of her runners. “We have our first meet on Saturday, so we’ll have to wait to find out. You just don’t know how it’s going to go until you step on the line the first time.”
Other teams the Squirrels will be competing against have just completed their indoor track seasons, so those athletes will be farther along in their fitness and development. Ely says, “We will do the best we can with where we are. I can’t ask for more of the athletes at this point.”
The team will compete in distance, sprint, and field events this season. Ely coaches the middle-distance and distance runners, and assistant coach Allen Clifton coaches the sprinters and jumpers. Daniel Woodard is new on board at MBU and coaches the shot and discus throwers.
On Saturday, March 18th, the Fighting Squirrels travel to The University of Mary Washington for the MWU Opener. Other meets on the schedule this season include competitions at Lynchburg, Bridgewater, CNU, Liberty and Radford.
If you are in the Fredericksburg area on Saturday, the field events begin at 9:00 am and running events start at 11:30 am. Come out and support your Fighting Squirrels!