WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Gallaudet University men’s track and field team will officially kick off their 2012 season when they travel to Salisbury, Md., to compete in the Lloyd Sigler Spring Meet on Saturday, March 3. The Bison will return six athletes from last year’s team and add another nine newcomers to the squad.
“Having as many new freshmen and new athletes, as we do, there will be a lot of new energy that will impact the team this season,” said Gallaudet University track and field head coach Mikaela Hudson, who enters her second year at the helm. “This new energy will make the team as a whole better and drive our more experienced athletes to be better.”
One of the main contributors to return is All-American jumper and sprinter Darius Flowers (Birmingham, Ala.). Flowers, now a junior, had a stellar 2011 campaign that culminated into a berth to the NCAA Division III outdoor championships. Flowers set a new school in the triple jump at the NCAA championships with a jump of 15.07 meters (49 feet, 5.5 inches). With the sixth-place finish at nationals Flowers became just the sixth Bison ever to be named a NCAA Division III track and field All-American. Flowers had an outstanding season as he excelled at the triple jump, winning the event six straight meets in a row at one point.
“Darius is excited for this season. He knows what it takes as far as training and commitment to get back to the NCAA’s this year,” said Hudson.
Flowers will serve a captain on the men’s track and field team this season, will be looked upon to be a leader for the team.
“His outstanding performances in practice and at the meets helps to keep himself and the team motivated,” said Hudson.
In addition to the triple jump, Flowers will also help anchor the relays. Flowers, along with junior sprinters Kelvin Lunn (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Shawn Gordon-Davis (Union City, Ga.) will help Gallaudet in the relays. Gordon-Davis is also a key contributor in the sprint events. He was a consistent point scorer for the Bison and had placed numerous times last year. Lunn will also be a key contributor for the Bison in the sprints this year.
The other key returnees will be sophomore thrower Jamie Groff (Jacksonville, Fla.), junior sprinter Jocus Houston (Baton Rouge, La.) and senior sprinter/thrower Juan Villalobos (South Gate, Calif.).
Among the new faces on the track and field squad include junior distance runner Griffin O’Hara (Colorado Springs, Colo.). O’Hara, a stand out on the men’s cross country team, will be a key contributor for the track team when it comes to the distance events. O’Hara placed 41st at the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) cross country championship this past fall. Freshman hurdler/jumper Michael Haynes (Granite City, Ill.) should also make an immediate impact for the Bison.
“Michael is very eager to get started and someone to keep an eye on this season,” said Hudson.
The 2012 schedule for the men’s and women’s track and field teams features trips to Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The first opportunity will come when the Bison travel to Salisbury, Md., for the Lloyd Sigler Spring Meet hosted by Salisbury University on March 3. The Bison then will travel to Bridgewater, Va., on March 24, for the Dr. Harry GM Jopson Invite followed by a trip to Chester, Pa., a week later to participate in the Danny Curran Invitational hosted by Widener University.
The month of April starts with a trip to Towson, Md., on the campus of Goucher College for the its own Goucher Invitational on April 7. The next Saturday the Bison will travel to former Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) foe York (Pa.) College to partake in the Green and White Invitational. GU will have a week off before returning to Pennsylvania to Shippensburg University on April 28 for the Paul Kaiser Classic.
In May, the Bison will participate in the two-day Mason-Dixon Outdoor Championships in Gwynedd Valley, Pa., from May 5-6 on the campus of Gwynedd-Mercy College. For those members of the Gallaudet track and field team that qualify or are close to qualifying they will attend the SWAT Last Chance Meet in Swarthmore, Pa., on May 14 and the Lions’ Last Chance Meet in Ewing, N.J., three days later. Those who qualify for the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) championships or the NCAA Division III championships will participate in those events on May 17-18 and May 24-26, respectively.
The Bison squad includes numerous athletes that play other sports for GU including men’s cross country, football and men’s basketball.
“Their experience in other sports is going to help out the team tremendously,” said Hudson. “That experience will translate well to the rigors of being a Division III track and field athlete.”
Hudson has big expectations as she begins her second year as head coach.
“We will be better both academically and athletically. I feel that we are going to improve from last year and be a better team this year,” said Hudson.