Archive for March, 2012

The Best Sporting Event I Never Saw

March 30, 2012

By: Nate Jervey
Assistant Sports Information Director

Not too long ago I witnessed the single-greatest athletic achievement that I have ever seen in person. For a solid week, I could not stop telling people about what I had seen and how exciting/riveting/just plain awesome it was. The only problem was, it didn’t actually happen.

Wait. How is that possible you ask? Well, it’s not all that odd to have witnessed things that didn’t actually happen. The Michigan basketball team for instance, didn’t actually go the Final Four when Chris Webber was there. I mean, they did and we have video of it. But due to some of Webber’s, shall we say ‘extracurricular’ activities while in Ann Arbor, those wins have been vacated and don’t actually exist. Now, the reason the event that I witnessed didn’t actually happen is much more benign than that.

Several weeks ago, the University hosted the Indoor ODAC Track & Field Championships over at Liberty University (don’t ask me how we ‘host’ an event at a facility an hour away). It figured to be a tightly-contested affair on the women’s side, and while Lynchburg was penciled to win the men’s side, plenty of excitement was in the cards.

The meet went about as planned with W&L, Roanoke and Lynchburg fighting it out for the top spot on the women’s side, while on the men’s side LC was handily winning the meet, though several individuals, from W&L in particular, were having themselves a fine championship meet.

Zander Tallman

No one more so that W&L sophomore sprinter Zander Tallman.

Tallman had already defended his 2011 titles in both the 200m and the 400m when it came time for the 4x400m relay, which is, for my money, the most exciting event at an indoor track meet. Tallman was looking for the trifecta, the Generals had won the event in 2011 and repeating would give him three ODAC titles in successive years. Not only did W&L boast Tallman, arguably the ODAC’s fastest athlete, but the second-place finisher in the 400m (Dillon Myers), the third-place finisher (Steven Colliau) and the fifth-place finisher (Mac Keers).

The race began without a hitch as the Generals’ first two legs jumped out to a sizeable margin heading into the third leg. Now, memory is going to fail me here, but here is what I remember. Our third leg gets caught and passed by another school, and perhaps even a second one. Nearing the exchange zone the Generals I think were in about third, maybe fourth, but hope was not lost as our anchor leg was Tallman, and the race was still close.

Close until our third leg dropped the baton. It happens, just like a dropped pass in football, or a missed free throw in basketball, things like that happen. That being said, with every precious second wasted in attempting to reclaim the baton and hand it off the Tallman, the field was getting away and hopes of a second conference crown were fading with them.

That is until the baton was finally handed off. I was standing right at the finish line with Shana Levine, our Associate AD, and Brad Bankston, the ODAC Commissioner, and remember saying “Ehhh, I don’t think he can catch them” in regards to Tallman’s chances of making up what at this point had become a 40-50 meter deficit.

I was wrong.

As if shot out of a cannon, Tallman seemed to eat up half of his deficit in about half a lap (the track is 200m and each runner makes two laps), leading Shana, Brad and myself to wonder aloud “Hmm, he MIGHT be able to do it”. After the initial start in which Tallman made up noticeable ground, the deficit seemed to remain constant up until, say, the 250-meter mark. Again,Shana, Brad and I wondered aloud “I think that’s it, he is going to run out of gas, just not enough time for him to do it.”

We were wrong.

You know how your older siblings would take it easy on you while playing a game and making you think that you had a chance at winning,only to crush your dreams at the end, knowing all along that they could? Well, that seemed to be what Tallman was doing. As if he heard the doubters in the crowd, Tallman kicked into some kind of human-warp speed thing heading into the third turn of the second lap and absolutely EXPLODED. The deficit that had once stood between the field and him had suddenly vanished and it was now a hotly contested race. The only question remaining was where would W&L finish? As Tallman blazed through the final two turns and exited onto the straightaway, passing runners as if they were standing still, I felt the hair on my arms begin to stand up as the level of noise in the Tolsma Indoor Track did the same. There was a palpable excitement in the air as Tallman set his sights on the one remaining runner in front of him.

Again, Shana, Brad, and I wondered aloud “No way, this can’t be happening,” as Tallman passed the (former) leader about 5-10 meters before the finish line and crossed in first place. A sea of people, both teammates and opponents, rushed over to the finish line to offer their congratulations to Tallman.

All except for two. Two officials huddled near the finish line and were in deep conversation as the Tolsma Center continued to buzz, the final meet results were being printed and Brad and I prepared to meet with the coaches to discuss the major award winners.

It was at this point that I feared something may be up and decided to eavesdrop as best I could. What I heard shocked me and I immediately told both Brandon Uhl and Nate Hoey (the men’s and women’s T&F coaches at W&L), “Guys, they are going to disqualify the 4×4 team.” The incredible race, and herculean effort that I had just witnessed was in serious jeopardy. After a brief discussion with the officials, coach Uhl was notified that his 4×4 team would, in fact, be disqualified. I don’t know for sure what it was, something having to do with the dropped baton and the recovery, but the ruling meant that Tallman’s erasing of a 50m deficit did not actually happen.

Ultimately, it didn’t have that great an effect on the meet. Tallman still earned his second Male Athlete of the Meet award, and Lynchburg would have won the meet regardless.  People still remember it, and will for some time I imagine. In the meet results however, no time is listed next to the names of Myers, Colliau, Keers and Tallman, just a ‘DQ’.

Oh well, all four of those athletes return next season (and for this outdoor season for that matter) and I would not be surprised to see them contend for a league title (again) and perhaps even qualify for NCAA’s.

And, just to prove it was no fluke. This past weekend at the W&L-VMI Carnival, Tallman not only broke the school record in the 400m by almost two full seconds, by running a 47.66 (old record was 49.14) but in Friday’s 4x400m relay he received the baton in last place (again). He did not win this time, but took the Generals from sixth up to third by racing around the track in a time of 46.75 seconds (a really fast time for the non-track speakers).

Carnival Time

March 22, 2012

By: Brandon Uhl
Head Men’s Track & Field Coach

It’s that time of year again! Time for track and field teams from across Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio to come to Lexington and be a part of the Carnival meet that we co-host with VMI. As one of the host teams, there is a lot of preparation that goes into making a track and field meet a success.

All the preparation is worth it when you see all the athletes enjoying the music that is playing while they are performing. It’s also nice to see coaches taking the time to talk about their teams and catching up on the past months.

In the past, the weather has been an issue at least one of the days of the meet, but we may catch a break this year and have a nice couple days. Typically, the distance runners like it cooler and the sprinters, jumpers, and throwers like it hot.

Some of the events will be under the lights and when it comes to track and field meets under the lights, it’s a rarity. However, it’s what makes it such an exciting night. There’s something special about competing under the lights. In this case, it will be “Friday Night Lights” track and field style and I’m Coach Taylor (Uhl).

How nice it would be to get the crowd that comes with “Friday Night Lights”. This is our only home event of the year and we have a 50m toddler race and a youth mile for the community to take part in. These races are a big hit for the college athletes to see. It keeps it fun and lets them know where they came from.

Hopefully, if you read this blog today and it’s not too late and you’re not too far away, you will come to the track and see some talented athletes compete in the original athletics (track & field). Boogity, Boogity, Boogity, let’s go racin boys and girls!

Training Day

March 20, 2012

By: Brittani Sahm
Sports Information Assistant

The course route for the Charlottesville Marathon and Half Marathon.

As part of my transition from college to real-life, I decided to set aside my sprinting spikes from years of running nothing above 200 meters and sign up for a half-marathon. At first I thought I must be crazy to actually want to run 13.1 miles, but it has been an interesting three-month transition.

I still don’t know what appeals to me about running because sometimes I really just want to sit on the couch all day and eat cookies. That was probably the hardest part for me to get used to, motivating myself to get up every morning and do the workouts. I still struggle with getting up an hour earlier than needed to run a few miles. Just this morning I contemplated not getting out of bed, but then I remembered the months of hard work I have already put into this. I can’t stop now.

I began training at the beginning of January for my race on April 7. I gave myself plenty of time because I knew this would not come easy to me. The first time I had to run over two miles, I thought that would be the end of me. I really had no reason to run longer distances before so it was a bit of a shock to my body.

Eventually the longer I ran, the more my body became used to the distance. Unfortunately the time I was running was not my only issue… I have heard from many people that the Charlottesville Half-Marathon is very hilly. Lexington is filled with hills, but some are just too much for me to handle. I got too ambitious at some points, trying to train through the mountains, but that only left me tired instead of turning in a good workout.

My biggest obstacle was probably around the six and a half mile mark. My times were improving and I was able to make it through all of my runs without keeling over, but the halfway mark was tough. This was around mid-February and the temperatures were not really the warmest. Saturday mornings are always my long run days and once I ran over six miles I realized this was happening. That meant I would have to keep going after this point. That scared me, especially because I had already paid the $80 to run the race and I could not let that go to waste.

Luckily I got through the slump and trudged on with the increasing mileage. I’m proud to say that this past weekend I ran 12 miles! Because I have kept up with the training, I know how my body reacts to the different distances now. For instance, the month of March has included a 10 mile, 11 mile and 12 mile run and it has been absolutely brutal. The first six to seven miles are pretty rough, but after that my body pretty goes numb. It’s really not as bad as it sounds. I make it through every run so that is always a success to me.

There have been times when I think I have gone a bit delusional while on a longer run though. One time I thought I saw assistant field hockey coach Jane Beall running through town (I was on mile 10 if that helps you picture how exhausted I was). Turns out my frantic waving and yelling her name was not getting her attention because it was not Jane. Whoops. The worst part is I just saw the same girl running this morning.

Even with all of the downfalls I have had while training for this half-marathon, I have gotten so many more great things from it. For one, I can eat all of the cookies I want. All joking aside, I also have learned to stick to things even when it can be tough. There is not a better lesson in life than learning to always stay strong.

Less than three weeks to go and I will be off racing. Wish me luck!

Céad mile fáilte!

March 16, 2012

By: Jane Beall
Assistant Field Hockey Coach

As a Washington and Lee student, I had the opportunity to do some pretty cool things.  My field hockey team won the ODAC for the first time in school history, I was able to work directly with poet and author R.T. Smith, and I was the last class of students who had the pleasure of dining at the GHQ.  But one of the experiences I have thought about almost every day since was the spring term I spent in Ireland studying Irish literature.  A group of students and I traveled with Professor Marc Conner to the land of the Eire to read Yeats literally in the shadow of Yeats tower, to tread Joyce’s broken path in Dublin and to explore both the country’s rich mythology, as well as its contemporary issues.  We packed the six weeks (this was back in the good ol’ days of a six-week spring term) full of trips and lectures and climbing on various rocks and castles.  Truthfully, a lot of the sites we saw have now blurred together in my mind but what I remember most vividly was the craic – the joyful company and conversation of friends.

One highlight of the trip that is as clear now as it was then was an unplanned trip to the Skellig Islands off the coast of County Kerry.  Remote and hard to access, Skellig Michael is the site of a well-preserved early monastic outpost.  The 12 km boat ride requires a strong stomach and a poncho, even when in the calmest conditions.  There are no bathrooms on the island and no gift shops.  There are, however, many, many steps that take you to the top of the rock while puffins hop around nearby.  Each step up feels like a step back in time.  With no guardrails or roped-off exhibits, you can crawl and climb and squint your eyes to try to imagine what life was like for the monks who lived and worked in this other-worldly place. Your hard work is rewarded with a view that is vast and humbling.

I loved everything about my study-abroad experience – the literature, the new friends, the new perspectives.  A new group of W&L students will be leaving to have their own Irish adventure soon, and I admit I am not a little jealous.  For now, I’ll have to content with myself with thumbing through scrapbooks and clicking through Facebook albums, but I hope to return someday.  Until then, sláinte!

Parker’s first NCAA Bracket

March 13, 2012

By: Brian Laubscher
Sports Information Director

I think this week is my favorite week of the year so when it came time to think of a topic for this blog, it was an easy choice – March Madness is upon us.  With the temperatures in the 70’s and college hoops in the middle of the afternoon, who wouldn’t be featuring a sunny disposition this time of year.

One of the fun things about the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament is filling out a bracket, whether you’re doing it for fun or laying down $100 for the right to pick the team that will eventually lose in the first weekend (It should be noted that I do not condone gambling).

This year I decided to have some entirely new fun and let my 6-month old son Parker choose his own bracket.  It wasn’t all that scientific, but I’m excited to see how he does.  With Villanova sitting at home (the season was so bad they even decided not to play in the CBI), I need something to amuse myself.

After trying shapes, we settled on remotes as the method of choosing teams.

We started on the left side of the bracket with the South and West Regions and the choices were made based upon whether he reached for a triangle-shaped toy or a round one.  He didn’t always go for the same toy, but after finishing with the left side of the bracket I figured we needed to have like shapes so we made a switch.

After a little break, we decided to use remote controls.  He’s really starting to take an interest in them and I’ve got more than one that is exactly alike so I figured it would take another variable out of play.  About 15 minutes later, we had a completed bracket and here are the results:

In the South, Parker really likes top-seeded Kentucky and 15th-seeded Lehigh, having them meet in the regional final.  Despite a spirited run by the Mountain Hawks, he does have the Wildcats advancing to the Final Four in New Orleans.

I was really interested to see how things would go out West where Parker’s mom’s team earned the No. 1 seed and surely would be ousted by Parker’s intuition to select LIU-Brooklyn in a first-round match-up.  Interesting thing happened though, little Parks sided with the Spartans and picked them all the way to New Orleans.  Florida made a pretty good run in defeating Virginia, Missouri and Marquette, but in the end, Parker thought MSU had too much beef in the post for the Gators.

Now for the East and Midwest, which were both chosen by the remote method.  In the East, Parker took a shine to Harvard, advancing the Crimson all the way to the Sweet 16, but alas brains could not carry them past the team now known for allowing pot-smokers to play despite failed drug tests.  I’m referring to the traitors better known as the Syracuse Orange (no way they should be heading to the ACC).  On the bottom half of that bracket, Ohio State took down Texas for the right to play ‘da Cuse for a trip to New Orleans.  In the end, the Buckeyes prevailed.

Finally, we have the Midwest, where chaos rained supreme.  Forget top-seeded North Carolina, second-seeded Kansas, third-seeded Georgetown, fourth-seeded Michigan or fifth-seeded Temple.  None of them made it out of the first weekend.  A Sweet 16 of ninth-seeded Alabama, 13th-seeded Ohio University, sixth-seeded San Diego State and 15th-seeded Detroit emerged, with The Bobcats and Aztecs advancing to the regional final.  Though family allegiances held true with his propensity to pick Ohio U. (his uncle Stephen and Aunt Liz both went to school in Athens), Parker decided to go with SDSU in the matchup of mid-majors.

Parker's complete bracket. Click on the image to enlarge.

In New Orleans, Parker went with Kentucky over Michigan State and Ohio State over San Diego State, setting up a match-up that realistically could come true – Kentucky and Ohio State.  Confirming what most everyone already feels, on Monday, March 12, 2012, Parker Burke Laubscher selected the Kentucky Wildcats to cut down the nets.  Lord help us all if he ends up becoming a Kentucky fan.

And there you have it, Parker’s picks for the 2012 NCAA Division I Tournament.  Just remember, if you’re looking to pick upsets in the opening round, he likes the following:

South Region
#12 VCU over #5 Wichita State
#13 New Mexico State over #4 Indiana
#14 South Dakota State over #3 Baylor
#15 Lehigh over #2 Duke

West Region
#13 Davidson over #4 Louisville

East Region
#12 Harvard over #5 Vanderbilt
#11 Texas over #6 Cincinnati

Midwest Region
#13 Ohio U over #4 Michigan
#15 Detroit over #2 Kansas

Everyone have fun and enjoy the next few weeks because the weather is going to be fantastic and the hoops should be even better.

The best dad problems

March 2, 2012

By: Nate Shearer
Head Wrestling Coach

Snowmen are always a good activity for sons and daughters

I have one of the best problems a Dad can have: a daughter who is very much hands on with her brother. My daughter, Nala, is 6 yrs. old and attends Waddell Elementary school. My son, Knox, is 8 months old and is home schooled. A year ago this past Christmas we wrapped an “I’m a big sister shirt” under the tree for our daughter. Without a doubt this was her best present she received. With a June 25th due date our only mistake was giving this information away so soon. Instead of answering “are we there yet” as you would on a family vacation it became “is he here yet” for the next 7 months. The day finally arrived. A newborn baby makes me nervous because of their fragility. Even though the doctors and nurses sling them around like it’s no big deal. Nala was even more hands on than we anticipated. My wife and I were handling a piece of fine china (Knox) while Nala was serving him 5 course meals from a play kitchen in her doll’s high chair. Knox needed protective custody! We would lay him down on his back to stretch and kick and turn around to see Nala making him do log rolls across the floor. As he increases in mobility the stakes are raised. Nala walks around the house with Knox flailing in her arms as they both laugh and shout. Just like a UPS parcel I feel he is now able to withstand a waist high fall. Nala takes to being a big sister as though earning a badge of honor. It’s the most important thing to her.

Like I said, a good problem to have

Nala’s understanding of Knox’s limits is much improved (although she did want to spray him with the hose while washing the car a few days ago). Her adaption to Knox being a part of the family has been incredible. She eagerly reads him books, sings songs, plays games, and helps get him dressed. Knox did ruin a good thing we had going when he took a pee on her while she was helping with a change. I cannot blame her because I would draw the same line in the sand. I am really enjoying this harmonious time because when Knox starts to use dolls/Barbie’s as sacrificial prisoners of war I’m sure things will change.