TOWSON, Md. - Despite having no one to hang a franchise tag on the Tigers can still score points and finish somewhere in the middle of the pack when the track clans gather at George Mason this Friday and Saturday for the Colonial Athletic Association Women's Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Last year was a bust for the Tigers who had high expectations of finishing among the top three, only to sink to last after the CAA's 2010 Female Track Athlete of the Year, Ashley Adams, went down with an ankle injury.
The Tigers' hopes of placing in the top half of the 2011 team standings were dealt a serious blow when Adams, the 2010 championship meet's Most Outstanding Performer, was forced to withdraw from further competition after suffering an ankle injury in the long jump early in the meet.
Towson couldn't find a way to make up the talented senior hurdler and speedster's lost potential of 30 points. The year before Adams captured both hurdle events, setting a CAA record in the 100 meter highs with a time of 13.66. She became the first Towson hurdler to clear the 400 intermediates under one minute with a 59.92 clocking, a new school record. She just missed setting the CAA record (59.88) by four-one hundredths of a second. Her performance led Towson to a third place, the Tigers' all-time highest CAA meet finish in the team standings.
"I think it was definitely a letdown, losing Ashley last year," said Tiger coach Roger Erricker, "and it probably had an effect on the other girls. But some of the other teams scored surprisingly well so a combination of the two factors contributed to our performances."
"I think some of the veterans are going to have a good meet and we've got some freshmen who are going to step up too," said Erricker.
When comparing Towson times and distances with the other conference schools, the Tigers are going to be challenged and will need near school records to finish individual events among the top three to earn All-CAA recognition.
The only top seed for Towson in this year's meet is sophomore Evan Campbell in the high jump. Her 5'7" leap is tops in 2011-12 in the league. Campbell finished fourth last year at 5'5.25". Junior Ashley Dabney enters the meet with the fifth best jump at 5'5.75".
A couple of freshmen have performed very well this spring. Alexis Appezzato has been sensational in the javelin. Her 142'3" stands second in the CAA. The top seed has a throw of 154'3". Emily Wenger dominated the 400 intermediate hurdles for Towson. She goes into this weekend's competition ranked fourth with a time of 1:02.17.
Seniors Shianna Smith and Shannel Shivers have one last chance for a medal. Both compete in the shot put, discus and hammer throw. Although Smith holds the school record in the hammer and is seeded third at 168'8", Shivers finished second in the CAA's last year, earning Towson its highest place in the meet. The distance to catch this year is 177'10".
Shivers has the fourth best shot put at 43'7" but the top put this year is 48'6.25".
Back on the track graduate student Katie Ogden owns the third fastest 10,000 meter run time at 37:16.74. The best CAA time this year is 33:56.26. Ogden, the program record holder in this event (36:18.14) was sixth last year, clocking a 37:02.22. Ogden also has the league's sixth fastest 5000 meter run time but she won't compete in that event. Senior Erika Griffith (20 at 18:08.98) is Towson's entry.
Sophomore Emma Tobin ranks fifth in the 3000 steeplechase in 11:29.95 despite having run the event just four times. The top CAA time is 10:50.25.
Other ranked Tigers include Campbell in the 400 meter dash (23 at 58.41), senior Kaylin Gilmartin-Donohue (19 at 4:40.54) and freshman Kara Bucaro (22 at 4:43.96) in the 1500 meter run, freshman Elizabeth Tauber (8 at 38:22.46) in the 10,000 meter run, junior Katie Salke (8 at 14.62) and freshman Kamilah Brown (14 at 14.94) in the 100 high hurdles and junior Jessica Cooke (25 at 17'5.50") in the long jump.
Cooke and Salke are scheduled to compete in the heptathlon also.
The Tigers have no competitors ranked among the top 25 in either of the sprints or the 800 meter run.
The women's championship (schedule of events) gets underway at 11:00 a.m. Friday. Saturday's competition begins at 10:00 a.m.