GEORGETOWN, Texas – After notching their best finish ever at the SCAC Men's and Women's Track & Field Championships last season, Coach Francie Larrieu Smith is excited to see what her teams can accomplish in 2014.
Eleven men's and women's athletes that earned All-SCAC honors last season return for the 2014 season, which makes a great starting point for Coach Larrieu Smith.
On the men's side, SCAC event champions Daniel Poole heads up an extremely talented and deep field squad. Poole has set a new SU record for the javelin in each of his first three seasons and looks to cap his career with another in his senior season. Cara Sheffer leads the women's side as she brought home All-SCAC honors in the javelin and is the record holder in the high jump.
Joseph Quintero also returns to compete in the throws for the Pirates. Quintero is the record holder in the discus and hammer throw for SU and was an All-SCAC winner in the hammer, shot put and discus last season.
Newcomers Nathan Balke and Will Devine step off their primary sport field to compete in the throws this season and have been nice surprises for the Pirates.
"We are really excited about our throws team and the talent that Coach Eboh has to work with in the returners and newcomers," said Coach Larrieu Smith. "They were strong last year and are looking really good so far this year. We are excited to see where they finish in conference."
On the track, seniors Joe Sponsel and Philip Davis will provide a tough one-two punch in the steeplechase. Sponsel is a veteran in the event after taking All-SCAC honors last season while Davis is a newcomer to the event but should be a contender for the title with his cross country background.
The sprinters will feature a lot of new faces looking to make themselves known, with the exception of Ryan Huiszoon who earned All-SCAC honors as part of the 4x100 and 4x400 relays. The middle and distance competitors are relative unknowns in track but feature SU's top cross country athletes in Alex Medrano, Alec Bergerson and Sponsel while All-SCAC selection Paden Williams returns in the 800.
Lilly Duarte and Kara Koinis headline a women's team that finished in third last year at the SCAC Championships. Duarte is coming off a historic cross country season as Southwestern's second ever NCAA Championships qualifier and is looking to continue that success on the track. Duarte earned All-SCAC honors in three events last year as did Koinis. Emily Ammon also returns to the track after her best year to date, taking home All-SCAC honors in the 100 hurdles, 400 hurdles, 4x100 and 4x400.
Coach Joe Gutilla leads the jumpers and has a tough group despite losing their top competitor from last year. SCAC event champion Cody Taylor heads up this group while first-year Noorie Han will look to take competitors by storm and get her name in the record books in the jumps. "Even though we lost our strongest jumper from last year we do have some good returners and a newcomer in Han that will challenge for a conference title," said Larrieu Smith.
The Pirates' schedule matches them up against upper level competition to prepare them for a tougher conference championship. They open the season on March 6th at the Tarleton Relays and get their first look at some of the conference competition at the Tiger Relays on March 28th. The addition of Texas Lutheran on the women's side can shake up the conference quite a bit as their indoor team has been nationally-ranked.
Southwestern closes the season at the SCAC Championships on April 25 & 26 in San Antonio.