Track and field continue strong season as a team

Sarah Loesch

USI track and field has found a way to succeed in multiple areas of competition this year.

“I think we have had one of our most successful track campaigns ever, if not our best on both sides,” said head coach Mike Hillyard. “We have had more success in the field events than we have had before.”

The success has also come with a strong bond between teammates.

Junior distance runner Tyler Schickel and hurdler Trent Martinez said the team and program have both grown this year.

“As a team we have grown a lot closer. We always talk to each other, even between the different events,” Martinez said.

Martinez said the members of the team who compete in track events and the members who compete in field events all care about how the others competed and ask about results afterward.

Schickel said the team has also upped its competitiveness. He said the team has filled more events than they have before and with that has come strong competition from the athletes.

This growth was also visible to Hillyard who said the amount of athletes looking to compete in nationals has grown this year.

“Track should have the potential of 11 athletes competing at nationals,” Hillyard said. “I don’t think we have ever taken more than five or six.”

Before the team can move on to nationals it will have to compete in the Greater Lakes Valley Conference Outdoor Championships on May 1-2.

Conference falls during the beginning of finals and athletes end up having to maintain a balance between preparation for competition and preparation for their tests.

Hillyard said at this point there is nothing more they can do to prepare from a fitness standpoint and it is more about the academics.

“A big part of being prepared for conference is what they did in the classroom two months ago,” he said.

Martinez said he will be taking a couple finals before they leave for conference and Schickel said he got lucky this year because his finals are later.

“I just have to study and sleep and eat right,” Schickel said. “It’s the little things to stay healthy.”

Martinez said he would complete a lighter workout during the week to keep his muscles ready and freshman distance runner Kate Duty had the same mindset.

Duty said a lot of the women’s team members were keeping a lighter workout regimen with finals approaching and taking a little more rest than usual.

Duty said the year has gone really well for the team and they have had growth in their workouts.

Senior throws team member Kelci Prewett said she thought the season went really well for them also, especially considering the throws team had no coach.

She said it was nice to see personal times improve when they knew it was coming from their own work and Hillyard agreed.

“We have a small group of kids, but really the credit goes all to them,” Hillyard said. “We don’t have a throws coach so they are doing all the work on their own.”

All the events will have the chance to display their growth during the GLVC Championships and Schickel thinks its the best place for it.

“A lot of people come out in conference with what they can really do,” he said.

The chance for a good showing at championships is there Hillyard said.

“All you can really do is prepare to the best you can do,” he said. “We want the kids to go in focused on their events.”