PAT LONGOBARDI — Sports Writer
The SCSU women’s track and field team opened the outdoor portion of the schedule looking at the new season as a chance get back to their winning ways.
The Owls dealt with some transition, including many injuries during the indoor season that caused others to try and step up in their events.
The team opened the season with two meets, but they did not participate that much with poor weather conditions—including snow at the Army Dick Shea Open in West Point, N.Y.—causing a little setback.
These next couple of meets will hopefully get the team back into the swing of things, weather permitting.
“They have had several weeks of good training,” SCSU women’s track and field head coach John Wallin said. “We were excited to have the first meet, and we have to grow on it. We are set to overcome some injuries during indoor. So, we kind of laid low sort of speak [in the opening weekend].”
Wallin, who is also the men’s head coach, took over after the women’s head coach, Chris Covert, resigned before the indoor season.
SCSU senior co-captain Ashley Bell said the team needs to unite to get back to the top where they know that they can be.
“We have been short a few people,” she said. “It is exciting to get back in action. I am excited to see what we can do. This is like my starting point with the team [this past weekend]. I just have to stay strong and get better for the team.”
Bell was a member of the 4×400 meter relay team that claimed first place at the UConn Spring Invitational with a time of 3:59.09.
One of their bigger goals is to get back to winning the conference championship after coming in third place at the Northeast-10 Conference Championships during the indoor season. The team had won the conference the three previous years.
“We want to win the [Northeast-10] on the women’s side,” Wallin said. “It really bothered me a lot we were not able to win conference during indoor. That is a major goal. We would also like to qualify as many as we can for the national championships.
“I want us to be a little deeper. We are strong, but we are not very deep. We need to be deeper in the distance, jumps, sprints and throws. Depth is a great issue right now.
“They [the captains] have brought a lot after the indoor season. They helped provide a team meeting to help improve the team [after the season]. They have done a great job taking responsibility to mentor the kids and on the importance of the championship meets.”
The women’s team sent two members to the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships in Mankato, Minn.
The Owls will next compete at one of their bigger meets, the Metropolitan Championships from April 13-14 in New Brunswick, N.J.
Last season in outdoor, the team ranked high nationally and will look to get back to that again this season.
SCSU junior co-captain Kimberly Johnson said it has been hard with teammates getting hurt, but the team is determined to move forward and to be successful.
Johnson finished first in the high jump clearing a height of 1.63 meters at the UConn meet. She also competed in the javelin event and had another top-8 finish in eighth with a throw of 26.42 meters.
“We were a little disappointed after the conference meet [during indoor],” she said. “You just need to be willing to put yourself on the line in the events and to do as well as you can. It was kind of a shake up, but we controlled it.”
Johnson, who qualified for last year’s outdoor championships, said she is trying to make it to that point again after competing in many different events this season and after a solid indoor season.
“I feel if we can stay healthy, then we can be pretty much unbeatable,” she said. “We have a few injuries, but they are minor for like two weeks. Two weeks in track is a long time. We need to stay united and to keep our spirits up.”