W&M track athletes dominate CAA postseason awards

The Colonial Athletic Association announced its athletes of the year on Monday afternoon, and yet again the William and Mary men's and women's track teams dominated the honors with Regan Rome, Taylor Frenia and Tucker Rizzi getting the premier awards.

Rome was named both the women's athlete of the year and the scholar-athlete of the year, Frenia was co-athlete of the year for the men, and Rizzi was scholar-athlete of the year for the men.

Leading the way was Rome, of Dallas, Pa. She won the track athlete of the year award for the second-straight year. It was her fourth total CAA athlete of the year honor (including cross country), making her one of just 11 athletes, across all CAA sports, to win four or more athlete of the year awards.

It was the fifth consecutive year that a W&M athlete has won that award, and the 10th time overall. W&M's Matt Lane is the only CAA athlete to win five athlete of the year awards, and Elaina Balouris, along with Rome, are among the 10 who have won four.

Rome, a junior math major, is also the first athlete in CAA history to sweep the athlete of the year and scholar-athlete of the year awards in two sports in the same academic year, having done the same last fall in cross country. She earned her fifth and sixth All-American honors this spring in outdoor track, placing sixth in the NCAA 10,000 meters (in a personal record 33:06.03) for first-team All-American, and 21st in the NCAA 5,000 meters for honorable mention All-American.

She was the first W&M athlete since 1982 to earn two All-American honors in the same NCAA meet. Rome had qualified for the NCAAs in the 10,000 by winning the Colonial Relays in a then PR 33:36.19, a Zable Stadium record. She broke another Zable Stadium record the previous week with a 4:49.71 mile in the Tribe Invitational. She also won her second consecutive CAA outdoor 5,000-meter title, and a week later won the ECAC 5,000 meters. Her 33:06.03 is No. 3 on the all-time W&M 10,000-meter list, trailing only Balouris and Emily Stites.

Rome is also the first W&M athlete to win All-American honors in three different events, the outdoor 5,000 and 10,000 meters, along with the indoor 3,000 meters.

Recent W&M graduate Taylor Frenia, of Virginia Beach, was co-athlete of the year for the men, along with UNC Wilmington jumper Moe Holmes.

It was the third straight year that a W&M male athlete has won athlete of the year, tying the CAA's all-time record for any school, and was the eighth time overall that W&M has won that award. Frenia tied the all-time W&M mark for school records in one academic year, with eight total records. He set the school indoor shot put record with a toss of 60 feet, one inch in his final throw at the IC4A indoor championships, then set the W&M outdoor shot record with a toss of 60-2 ½ at the Penn Relays.

At this spring's CAA outdoor championships, Frenia not only set a W&M record, but also an all-time CAA record in the discus, at 192 feet, 7 inches. At that CAA championships, Frenia was the first man since 1992 to win all three of the heavy throw events in one year, taking the shot, discus and hammer throw (191 feet, 11 inches). Those three titles gave him seven career CAA wins, tying the all-time conference mark, and earning him Field Athlete of the Championship honors.

Tucker Rizzi, of Westport, Conn., who graduated in May with a finance degree, was the CAA men's scholar athlete of the year, after a vote of all 10 CAA schools. It was the 12th time in the 15-year history of the scholar-athlete award that a W&M athlete has won that award for men's track. Rizzi was honorable mention All-American at this month's NCAA championships with a 24th place finish. He won the college section of the javelin at the Penn Relays with a PR 223 feet, 11 inches, third all-time for W&M in that event. He was the CAA javelin champion, and improved his career best by 24 feet this year.

W&M now has 74 total winners of the CAA scholar-athlete of the year award, among all sports, 32 more than any other school. Each of the 21 sport winners advance to the ballot for the overall CAA Male and Female scholar-athlete of the year, which will be announced later this month.

Separately, one athlete from each CAA school made the All-Academic team, and for the second year in a row, the Tribe representative for the men was Lucas Wratschko, who graduated this spring with a degree in finance. He was All-East in the IC4A Championships, with a sixth place in the pole vault, a PR 16 feet, 3 ¼ inches, his fourth 16-foot clearance of the year.

For the women on the All-Academic team, W&M was represented by junior Leia Mistowski of Narragansett, RI, who was an honorable mention All-American at the NCAA championships with a 22nd place finish in the hammer throw. She won her third straight CAA hammer title with a W&M and CAA-conference record of 203 feet, six inches, then was third at the ECAC Championships for all-East honors. Mistowski now has the 18 best hammer throws ever for W&M, with the top eight all coming this spring.

William and Mary Athletics Director Samantha Huge also announced that interim director of track & field and cross country Alex Heacock (W&M '09 with a degree in kinesiology) has shed the "interim" title, and is now the full-time W&M head coach. He was named interim director last July after the retirement of former director Steve Walsh. Previously Heacock was W&M's assistant coach for throws from 2014-16. As an undergraduate he won the CAA javelin title in 2007.

Besides the track superlatives, including 18 school records this year, W&M swept the men's and women's cross country titles last fall.

Copyright © 2017, The Virginia Gazette
36°