Track prepares for outdoor campaign
Matt Gad – Sports Writer
Fresh off a men’s NE10 Championship and a runner-up finish for the women’s squad, the Owls are ready for their 2018 outdoor track and field campaign.
“We’re gonna have some kids going to Yale and some going to Miami to start the season,” Head Coach John Wallin said. “Miami’s more of a sprints meet and it’s warm weather so we try to keep our higher-level sprinters and athletes in warmer weather, especially when it’s so inconsistent here.”
Athletes that competed during the indoor season get between three days and a week to rest after the end of the winter schedule before they begin their spring preparation, while those who went to nationals get a full week off after their final meet.
Senior Orrin Parke, a sprinter, said he prefers the warmer weather and the ability to run his races outdoors. He said he feels his performances are “pretty even” between the indoor and outdoor seasons.
“In terms of the length, the track is only 200 meters indoors and it’s 400 outdoors,” Parke said. “The turns aren’t as sharp outdoors.”
Wallin said he is looking forward to seeing some guys perform outdoors who may not excel in events during the indoor season.
“We have some kids who are better 400-hurdlers than they may be sprinters indoors and then we have kids, like Geuber Docteur, who’s a javelin thrower that’ll open up in Miami,” Wallin said. “We have some kids who are better hammer throwers. Mekhi Barnett is a guy that plays football and doesn’t do many events indoors so he’s looking to start outdoors with the discus.”
Jesse Nelson, a sophomore pole vaulter who was sixth at last year’s NE10 Outdoor Championships, said he wants to set new records this season.
“If I can get first this season that’d be great. I still have to compete against a lot of good vaulters but, for indoor at least, we did pretty well. I’m hoping we can hit the marks even better this year,” Nelson said.
He said the Owls have a great team spirit where everyone is loud and cheering positively for one another.
“The thing I love about these track meets is that whenever we’re not competing in our own event we’re with everyone on the sides cheering for races, cheering for jumps, clapping … we scream,” Nelson said. “When I’m vaulting and people are clapping for me it gives me a sense of ‘they’re there, they care.’”
After last spring’s conference championships, Wallin said the team started to fall apart a bit, something he hopes will not repeat itself this year.
“We’ll redshirt a couple key guys, like Hunter Stokes and Mike Griffith, who were big point scorers for us last year so hopefully some of the younger guys step up,” Wallin said. “We have a lot more guys on the distance side that’ll do well and then some of the younger guys from last year will be even better. We’d like to think that we can fill these holes with other athletes on the team.”
Photo Courtesy: southernctowls.com