FAIRFAX, Va. – After spending the first three weekends on the road, home will be a welcome sight for the George Mason men's and women's track and field teams this weekend.
The Patriots stay home on Saturday to host the Mason Spring Invitational at George Mason Stadium. Field events begin at 10 a.m., with running events starting at noon. Admission is free.
Twenty-four schools, with 24 women's teams and 22 men's teams, are expected to compete. The teams include Power 5 conference representatives in Pittsburgh (ACC), West Virginia (Big 12) and Georgetown (BIG EAST) to Dartmouth (Ivy League) to Bucknell (Patriot League) to Atlantic 10 rivals George Washington and Richmond.
“It has definitely grown over the last handful of years into a meet which has been well attended and got a good selection of teams,” head coach Andrew Gerard said. “It has really grown and we've gotten some great representation from not only some local schools but some folks that make the long journey. It has really turned into quite a nice, little meet. And to have it at home in front of our home crowd, family, friends, is a nice opportunity to showcase our team. With that being said, we're going to make good decisions with what we can get done, given the predicted weather conditions (of rain, snow and wind). We don't want to waste a competitive opportunity. But, at the same time, we're going to make good decisions.”
Mason spent the first three weekends split up at seven meets, spread out across Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and California. Gerard said the comfort of sleeping in your own bed and convenience of competing at home should go a long way.
With the Atlantic 10 Conference Championships a month away – also at home at George Mason Stadium – Gerard and the coaching staff likes the Patriots current development. The first three weeks provided many high marks, including Steven Flynn breaking the school record in the 5,000-meter run, Jennifer Nakamura and Amber Hawkins recording the second- and third-fastest times, respectively, in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Carolyn Conley also posted the sixth-fastest time in program history in the 10,000-meter run and the 4x100-meter relay team of Ayo Raymond, Junias Agyei, David Stone and Bernard Freeman notched the seventh-best time.
The Patriots hope to build off early season success, especially in the middle-distance and distance events this weekend with cooler temperatures expected.
“I think we are in a good spot,” Gerard said. “We are pleased with where we are. After this (meet), it gets toward more of what we think of as midseason. You really start to feel the conference meet approaching. You start to feel the ECAC/IC4A's, the NCAA Regional approaching. This is hopefully the transition between, 'OK, we're done with the early season stuff and now we should be competing at full strength of where we are.' We might not be peaking quite yet. But we will be at full strength for where we are. Everybody is where we expect them to be at this point I think. They are on their appropriate paths so I think we're happy with where we are right now.”