TOWSON, Md. — When head coach John Caslin talks about his men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams, he focuses on the potential for growth this season. With a combined 19 freshmen and sophomores among the total roster of 31 athletes, and only seven seniors among the two rosters, his point is certainly hard to argue.
“It’s a very young team,” Caslin said. “It’s going to be a year of progress. We might not start out where we necessarily want to be in the long run, but we certainly expect to be much stronger this season.”
The teams will get their first chance to display their improvement this Saturday at the Bow-Tie Classic, hosted by Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pa.
That meet is the first of two prior to Goucher’s winter break. With several team members studying abroad in the fall or recovering from the cross country season, the Gophers will not be at full strength until the indoor season resumes at the end of January.
A group of three sophomores on the women’s side headline Goucher’s participants this weekend. Kamillah Smith (Northampton, Mass./Amherst Regional), Danielle Granger (Amherst, Va./Amherst County) and Stephanie Correa (Frederick, Md./Tuscarora) all gained valuable experience as freshmen last year, and will be expected to continue their development this winter.
“I expect all of them to be key players in the conference this year,” Caslin remarked. “They’ve worked very hard up to this point, and are leading a young group of women. I think we’ll be very strong in the sprints and jumps.”
Smith earned second-team All-Landmark honors after finishing as the runner-up in the 60-meter dash at the conference championships last February. She is currently the school record holder at the 55-meter and 60-meter distances, and will also compete for Goucher at the 200-meter level.
Correa, Granger and Smith also achieved second-team All-Landmark along with departed senior Jaclyn Kellon in the 4 x 200-meter relay. Both Correa and Granger were key contributors in the hurdles, and they will additionally attempt to fill the void left by Kellon, who was the Landmark champion in the 400-meter dash last year.
Caslin also praised the offseason development of sophomore Sara Aganovic (Pasadena, Md./McDonogh), who placed ninth in the conference in the triple jump last year and will return as Goucher’s main jumper this winter.
“All four of them are stronger and in better shape,” Caslin said of the sophomores. “Coach Eric (McCray) has been outstanding with helping to get them prepared. They’ve been working hard since Nov. 1, and they’ll get their opportunity to start to show that this weekend.”
Sophomore Audrey Gutierrez (Los Angeles, Calif./Ramon C. Cortines School) and freshman Sabrina Jimenez (Moca, Dominican Republic/Livingston (N.J.)) will compete for the Gophers in the shot put, while newcomers Mimi Rappaport-Gow (Washington, D.C./Duke Ellington School of the Arts) and Marissa Charlemagne (New York, N.Y./Bronx Preparatory Charter School) will make their debuts on Saturday as well.
The men’s team is particularly affected by study abroad and cross country requirements, as only three Gophers will travel to Collegeville this weekend. All three, Shannon Sanders, Jr. (Nashville, Tenn./University School of Nashville), Justin Wilson (New York, N.Y./Oakwood Friends School) and Eli Schwartz (Berkeley, Calif./Berkeley), will be running their first races at Goucher.
“Shannon has shown us a lot in his month of work,” Caslin commented. “He’ll be important to us as a sprinter, and we have a bunch of other young guys sprinting that we’re interested to get a look at.”
Goucher will be aided later in the season by the return of Troy Browne (Springdale, Md./C.H. Flowers), the school record holder at the 400, 500 and 800-meter distances, and Hugh Geller (Devens, Mass./Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School). Both spent last year studying abroad, and the two seniors will be expected to lead the large group of underclassmen.
After tomorrow’s meet, the Gophers will participate in the Hagerstown Invitational on Dec. 14 before taking a break which will last until the Muhlenberg Invitational on Jan. 24. That event will be the first of four meets before the Landmark championships on March 1.
“We’re going to learn a lot in the next few weeks,” Caslin concluded. “And once we get back after the break, we’ll be ready to rev it back up with our full team and we’ll see what happens from there.”