PAT LONGOBARDI — Sports Writer
Going into the second half of their 2011-12 season, the SCSU women’s track and field team will try to keep up whatever they were doing before the calendar hit the new year.
The Owls got off to a good start with many athletes stepping up from the first meet of their season at the Yale Lidlifter Invitational.
Some also made NCAA provisional marks for a chance to make the national meet in March.
Three athletes—senior Ashley Bell, junior Brittany Brown and senior Kimberly Johnson—set the stage with each being among the top of their respective events in the nation.
The team has stayed positive after men’s track and field head coach John Wallin took over when Chris Covert resigned last fall.
“In the first half, they did incredible,” Wallin said. “They dealt with much adversity losing Coach Covert and the different routines. The grades in the first semester were also incredible. January is a tough month with so many meets, but we have to keep the spirits at a high volume.”
“These [provision marks] were things we expected and we want several more still to come. The girls have showed the work that they did over the summer. The athletes stayed in good shape and it always pays good dividends so they are not way behind. For Brittany, Ashley and Kim, it is a testament to what they did this summer to work hard.”
Brown has hit the provisional marks for four events—60-meter high hurdles, high jump, long jump and pentathlon. Bell is in the 60 meter dash with Johnson in the pole vault.
Brown said she was kind of surprised to start off the way that she did.
“[Hitting the marks] was important,” said Brown. “I was not expecting it. I was so scared on Dec. 1. I made it on my very first jump and I was like ‘I am good at this now.’ The four [events] are a big deal.”
The Owls are now ranked No. 10 in the latest preseason USTFCCCA rankings. This is definitely a good place to start, but the goal is to surely keep in this area. The team ended last season at No. 19 and No. 1 in the East region.
Bell and Johnson will also serve as team captains for the 2011-12 season.
Bell said she is in better shape than she has been.
“I feel pretty strong,” Bell said. “My goal is to hit for the 200 meter dash and the 4X400 relay and go to nationals in three events. My expectation is to win conference and get as many relays and individuals into nationals as possible.”
“The ranking is a big deal. Coach encourages us not to look because it is more up and down and not to be upset.”
“They know that if they don’t stay on the ball, then they will drop,” Wallin said. “It is worse to drop than to climb. They need to fight to stay in the top 10 because Division II women’s track and field is changing.”
The upcoming schedule gets into the more challenging meets starting with the Metropolitan Championships in Manhattan, NY on Jan. 26 before the month of February brings the meets to show off what the Owls have been working for.
“Last year, the men’s team [at SCSU] was better,” Brown said. “We came in the top three. We will try our hardest to try and be one of the top in New England.”
“We need to pay close attention to January and February,” Wallin said. “The Great Dane Classic is a competitive meet. There are 100 people in each event and it is loud and hectic, and you need to stay on point. We need to turn the mind around and turn it into aggression and come out and attack.”