When the Bulldog distance squad is away, the Fightin’ Blue Hens will play.

At least, that is what happened at Saturday’s University of Delaware Invitational. The men’s outdoor track team, competing without four top distance runners and long jumper/sprinter Anthony Thomas ’03 — all at Tennessee’s Sea Ray Relays this weekend — tied the Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens for second place with 160 points. Army’s 178 won the meet.

Distance runner Casey Moriarty ’05, thrower Doug Czerwinski ’06 and hurdler/jumper Shomari Taylor ’06 all had first-place finishes. Moriarty won the 1,500-meter race (3:58.04); Czerwinski won the javelin (57.04 meters), bettering his older brother, captain Al Czerwinski ’03, who took second. Taylor won twice: the long jump (6.61 meters) and the 400-meter hurdles (55.41).

Coach David Shoehalter declined to speculate on the impact the missing five athletes had on the outcome.

The Elis also were without thrower Nathan Lawrie ’04, who had commitments to the football team, Shoehalter said.

“It was overall a very good, competitive effort by everybody who was there,” Shoehalter said.

Windy conditions made some events, like Moriarty’s 1,500 meters, very difficult.

“He gained a lot of confidence by the way he won it,” Shoehalter said. “It was very windy. He took the lead early — and held off a guy from West Point for 300 meters. I think he gained some confidence that he can kick with anybody.”

Moriarty said the wind did not just make the race more difficult but also made strategy a key to success. Moriarty and teammate Patrick Dantzer ’06 took turns leading the race on the first three laps to give one another the chance to draft and avoid the wind.

“That’s just so the wind doesn’t take so much out of you,” Moriarty said.

Dantzer finished third (4:00.47) behind an Army runner.

Taylor enjoyed his first two collegiate victories in the same meet. In the 400-meter hurdles, he won emerging from the slower heat, a rare feat.

“I knew that I would have to run fast,” said Taylor, explaining his strategy of running in the slower heat. “I hit all the hurdles perfectly and was just able to finish strong at the end.”

Both of Taylor’s times were his best all year, he said.

Meanwhile, in Tennessee, distance coach Daniel Ireland, Thomas and distance runners Robert LoBue ’04, Matthew Boshart ’06, Josh Yelsey ’05 and Robert Dwyer ’04 competed at the extremely competitive Sea Ray Relays.

LoBue and Boshart competed in the open 800-meter race, which boasted 16 athletes under 1:50, an “unheard of” level of competition, Ireland said.

LoBue qualified for IC4A with his respectable 1:51.80.

“It’s probably the best 800-meter field in any outdoor meet in the country this year,” Ireland said. “The big meets don’t feel quite as big after having done this.”

Hopefully, the experience will pay at the first major outdoor meet of the year: Harvard at Yale, April 19.