Track and field aims to repeat greatness

Sam Tapper – Sports Writer

The Southern men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams are entering the stretch run of the season, gearing up for the NE-10 championships with their sights on a conference title once again.

For the women’s team, they checked in at number four in the most recent rankings of the U.S. Track & Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association’s East Regional Rankings.

In the eyes of their head coach, Melissa Stoll, the team is looking “quite top-notch” to this point in the season.

“[We’ve been preparing for NE-10s] since the summertime,” Stoll said. “I mean, really it’s a build up over time, the training has been pretty cumulative thus far, so right now we’re going into the phase of where you’re sharpening, so the intensity is getting a little bit higher, the volume’s lowering down a bit.”

Stoll said that a big part of preparing for this time of year is “how the athletes conduct themselves” outside of their training. Making sure they eat right, and sleep is just as important as the constant grind the athletes put in every day.

For Stoll and the athletes, they are confident with where they currently stand that they can walk away as conference champions. For them, they say it is about staying locked in, staying focused and having that winning mentality 100 percent of the time.

“I think that what we need to improve on the most is just making sure we have that drive there constantly,” said captain and senior Meghan Delaney. “Even the meets that aren’t the NE-10s or any sort of championship, we need to have that drive there and that energy there, and it also goes back to practice.”

On the men’s side, the team is as confident as ever. The Owls are currently in the USTFCCCA top 25 national rankings, clocking in at No. 23, with conference rival American International College ranked in the top five at No. 4. Despite what the national rankings say, head coach John Wallin says they are misleading, as the Owls are ranked first in their region, ahead of AIC.

“AIC is in our conference and our region, nationally they’re ranked number four and we’re ranked 23rd,” said Wallin. “But regionally, we’re ranked number one by a lot and they’re ranked number two or three. So, you can see where regionally it makes more sense like nationally, it’s crazy that they’re ranked number four.”

No matter what the rankings say, Wallin is quite confident his team can come out and issue a top-tier performance, not because of the reputation Southern track and field has, but because of the group, he has to work with this season.

“I’m still confident we can win the NE-10,” he said. “The thing for us is that we’re a very deep, very strong, very talented group. And I think the only stress I really have is that everybody’s not perfect, or everybody’s not fully prepared to go to the meet. But the reality is that 75 percent of that team is ready to go, and that’s more than enough to win the meet. It’s that other 25 percent that stresses me. I would like to get them going in the right direction.”

Wallin’s confidence seems to be shared amongst all of his players, as the athletes are well aware of what they are capable of and who they are as a team – and that is a program based on winning.

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