Defending Champions Gwynedd-Mercy boast a dominant group of track athletes from the 200m through the 5k, plus one of the top High Jumpers in Div. III (who is a more-than-serviceable horizontal jumper, too). Their advantage over the Captains on paper was significant - 24 points. With Methodist's men also in the hunt, the Captains were going to need some big hits to turn the tables.
Gwynedd-Mercy held off a strong charge by the Captains in 2011 to claim the Mason-Dixon Title and bested the Captains in 2010, too, while finishing a close runner-up to Salisbury. With the Captains sitting two highly-seeded freshmen and monitoring injuries in a few other key areas, the veteran GMC squad looked poised to turn their advantage on paper in to a second Conference Championship.
The first surprise of the day was the absence of Methodist's top Triple and Long Jumper - #1 and #4 in Division III, respectively. The Captains capitalized best in the first event of the day with junior Richard Roethel (Farmingville, NY) and senior Kwarteng Asare (Fairfax, VA) both posting season bests to take 2nd and 4th, respectively. Roethel's 6.69m/21-11.5 was also an indoor PR for him. Asare landed at 6.46m/21-2.5 and the pair helped gain seven points on the form charts.
Both jumpers were also part of a calculated risk in the 60m Hurdles. Needing every point available, Asare and rookie Decathlete-in-training Daulton Teaford (Boyce, VA) were entered along with Roethel and Dominic Yanger (Reston, VA). Only seven athletes were entered in the event. While not declaring either of Asare or Teaford would have saved not only an ugly run over the hurdles, it would have also made for one fewer race in Roethel's busy day. But what if the two novice hurdlers managed to upset one of the other entries and the Captains gained two bonus points? As it turned out, Virginia Wesleyan's entry false-started in the prelims and after a "safe" run, all four Captains were in the finals. For Yanger (9.43) and Roethel (8.65), their "safe" runs were also PRs.
In the flat 60m, Nathan Joyce (Ft. Belvoir, VA), Robert Mayes (Culpeper, VA), and John McErlean (Annandale, VA) all advanced to the semi-finals - Joyce (7.28) and McErlean (7.43) did it with PRs. Joyce continued on to the finals with another PR (7.17).
The first final on the track was the Mile where the Captains have been waiting for rookie Samuel Martin (Rockville, MD) to step up. He did so here with a 3rd place 4:25.67 - just 2 seconds shy of his PR. Christopher Allen (Reston, VA) dropped his PR by two seconds, but came up a place shy of scoring in 7th (4:32.92). Martin's move up created another eight point turn-around on the favorites.
The hurdlers then returned to the blocks and the quartet completed a 2-4-5-6 finish, all with PRs. Roethel dropped his best down to 8.58, Yanger to 9.30 (0.33 seconds faster than his pre-meet best). Asare improved his preliminary time to 9.63 and Teaford ran half a second faster in finals (10.49). Meanwhile in the Weight Throw, Jonathon Wade (Rocky Mount, VA) notched his PR up another two feet to earn silver and move to #5 on the CNU All-Time List (13.84m/45-5). Freshman Anthony Melton (Richmond, VA) added almost five feet to his best for 6th (11.24m/36-10.5) and fellow rookie Nolan McDowell (Mount Sidney, VA) added four to his for 9th (9.57m/31-4.75). Unfortunately, the Captains surrendered the four points they gained in the hurdles - and with Gwynedd-Mercy also gaining 2 points in the hurdles, they seemed to be regaining control of the meet.
The men's Pole Vault was, on paper, another cash-cow for the Captains. With six entries in the meet by way of all six being ranked in the Conference top-10, the Captains expected 20 points. What the paper did not show was Joseph Taylor's (Prince George, VA) shoulder injury that had kept him out of training for two weeks and would be limited to likely only one jump on the day. Alexander Hurd (Stafford, VA) looked poised to make his teammate's injury a non-factor as he was clearing heights with ease - until he landed awkwardly in the pit after a virtual-PR clearance (3.78m/12-4.75) and was done with a knee injury. Junior David Fishman (Springfield, VA) had been on a roll in recent weeks, but he could not lock in on this day and managed only a 7th place 3.93m/12-10.75. Christopher Comeau (Chesapeake, VA) stepped up for a 5th place finish (4.08m/13-4.5). Since the field was thinning out at this point, Taylor took his first jump - and cleared easily looking none the worse for wear. His first-jump clearance secured 3rd place. Roethel had not jumped since before his 60m Hurdles finals and the open 400m, but after taking a time foul to give him a little more rest, he cleared a PR 4.23m/13-10.5 on his final attempt and claimed the #7 spot on the CNU All-Time List. Taylor and Roethel watched event leader Kyle Chowhan of Virginia Wesleyan fail at the next height before taking a shot at moving up with attempts at 4.53m/14-10.25. Roethel's first attempt looked like it would stay on the pin, but eventually fell off and his last two attempts were not nearly as close. Taylor simply blew through the lighter pole he was using to protect his ailing shoulder, but still nearly managed the height anyway. All told, however, the Captains were on the wrong end of a six point swing in the event to GMC.
In between jumps, Roethel was part of one of the bigger positive turnarounds for CNU. Seeded with just three points in the 400m to GMC's 24, the junior led the Captains to a 3-5-6 finish and a twelve point swing. Roethel ran a PR 50.97 for bronze, frosh Robert Mayes was 5th in a PR 51.72 and Nathan Joyce came up for 6th with a PR 52.36. Matt Gaddy (Stafford, VA) also PRed in 9th (52.57). Joyce turned around and claimed his point in the 60m finals (7.27), but watched GMC regain six of the points they just lost in the longer sprint.
With his Pole Vault duties complete, Roethel's next stop was his main event - the High Jump.He watched rookie teammates Mason Smith (Winchester, VA) take 6th (1.74m/5-8.5) and Daulton Teaford take 4th (1.89m/6-2.25), both tying their indoor bests. Roethel successfully entered the competition at the next height and then played off Gwynedd-Mercy's Justin Turner's misses at the next heights. With his 200m heat coming up, Roethel decided to take a preemptive jump at 2.08m/6-9.75 which was enough for gold.
Smith (12.48m/40-11.5) and Teaford (PR 12.55m/41-2.25) came to the High Jump after placing 6th and 5th in the Triple Jump. With fellow rookie Javan Walker (Woodbridge, VA) taking bronze (12.71m/41-8.5) and Kwarteng Asare breaking out for a big indoor PR 14.10m/46-3.25 for gold, the Captains turned another 16 point flip on the form charts and took full control of the meet.
Back on the track, Scott Teribury (Woodbridge, VA) and Brian Huffman (Charlottesville, VA) managed a very tactical 800m to take silver and bronze, respectively (2:01.23 & 2:02.84) with Wilson Bever (Chantilly, VA) grabbing All-Conference honors in 6th (2:04.11).
As in the women's competition, CNU was locked out of the fastest section of the 200m while Gwynedd-Mercy had the top three spots plus another in the penultimate section with the top three Captains. Daulton Teaford blew up the form charts with a PR 22.88 lap that held up for second place - part of a 19 point turn-around for the Captains. Nathan Joyce picked up his 4th PR of the day in an earlier heat with a 23.38 run.
The Captains continued to pour it on in the final four events. Raymond Gamache (King George, VA) ran the first half of the 5k chomping at the bit as Coach Barreau kept the reins tight on him. Finally allowed to run free over the final kilometers, Gamache exploded to a 29 second win - and 26 second PR - 15:22.64 and now sits #7 on the CNU All-Time Lists. Frosh Donovan Lewin (Cape Charles, VA) made his indoor 5k debut count for two team points in 5th (15:51.58) and Aaron Zook (Harrisonburg, VA) dropped his PR 11 seconds to 16:03.55 for 6th.
The last field event was another big one for the Captains. Roethel continued his outstanding day with a runner-up 12.67m/41-7 toss in the Shot Put. Nolan McDowell was 3rd in a PR 12.64m/41-5.75 and Jonathon Wade finished 4th in 12.55m/41-2.25.
Robert Mayes, Daulton Teaford, and Nathan Joyce brought the baton around to Kwarteng Asare with a solid lead in the 4x400m Relay. Gwynedd-Mercy, however, had individual 400m champ on anchor and the lanky senior chased hard to close the gap and take the lead heading in to the final lap. Asare held on to his heels, however, and made a final charge coming off the last turn. Diving towards the finish, he edged the Captains to gold with a big lean at the line.
The meet wrapped up with Scott Teribury, Matt Gaddy, Daniel Richard (Manassas, VA), and Christopher Allen legging out a 3rd place in the Distance Medley Relay giving the Captains their final six points in their 171.5-124.5 victory over Gwynedd-Mercy. Methodist finished 3rd with 80 points.
Richard Roethel's 34 points from winning the High Jump and grabbing silvers in the Pole Vault, Long Jump, and Shot Put earned him Outstanding Field Athlete honors from the Mason-Dixon coaches.