The men’s and women’s track and field team began their 2020 indoor campaign Sunday in Birmingham, Alabama. Coming off the six week winter break, there were only four days of official team practice to get the athletes prepared mentally to compete at a high level.
“The expectation was pretty low because I wasn’t sure of where they were at,” head coach Kevin Robinson said. “But I think we had some bright spots today.”
Among those bright spots were wins from Kolebeinn Gunnarson, Zach Wyatt, the men’s 4x200m relay (Gunnarson, Hunter Miniard, Adam Yakobi, Josh Owten), the men’s Distance Medley Relay (Wyatt, Tate Wyatt, Emmanuel Cullins, Payton Gleason), Jordan Wesner and Iason Machairas on the men’s team; as well as Ladaisia Walton, Allie Hughes and DeeNia McMiller on the women’s team.
Also among those bright spots was junior sprinter Paris Perkins. Perkins competed in the 60 meter dash, 200 meter dash, and the 4x400 meter relay, coming away with personal records (PR) in the 60 meter and 200 meter.
“I really wanted to PR,” Perkins said. “It was a long day. I ran the 60, 200 and 4x400 and I came away with a PR in the 60 and 200.”
This was the first indoor track meet of the season for the distance squad. While the sprinters, jumpers and throwers were competing at their first meet of the season, the distance squad stayed in Memphis to race the St. Jude Half Marathon. With the first track performances of the season, distance coach Kenneth Frenette believed the meet was great to get the distance squad re-acquainted with the track.
“Today was alright, it’s the first meet of the season and everyone is pretty rusty,” Frenette said. “Today is really about shaking off the rust and seeing where we are as a squad and what we need to do to get ready for not only the indoor conference meet, but also ready to compete to the fullest of our abilities when outdoor track rolls around.”
Although there were only four days to prepare for the meet, Frenette wasted no time getting back into training.
“We did two workouts this week, so they definitely had some tired legs,” Frenette said.
All-American high jumper Jordan Wesner came away with a win at the meet, but is looking forward to getting better and preparing for another stab at the NCAA National Championships.
“I take all of my meets seriously, even if some of them aren’t as competitive,” Wesner said. “It’s great preparation for that one big meet at the end of the season.”
Distance runner Zach Wyatt returned for his sophomore season and claimed two wins at the meet. Wyatt was a part of the Distance Medley Relay that took the title, he also was the first to the finish in the 3000 meter run.
“We were going for the meet record, but even though we fell a little short we got a solid team win in that relay to start the season,” Wyatt said. “I got a PR out of the 3000 meter run, so I was happy with my performance. But I think I need to work on pushing myself more physically. I underestimate how much more I have left and what I can do in a race.”
With the first meet of 2020 in the books, the athletes and coaches are looking ahead to both the conference meet and national meet. Along with striving towards performance, Coach Robinson is looking forward to finding out the identity of the team.
“I think today was a really great start all things considered,” Robinson said. “I wanted to see if we would put ourselves in the best position to be competitive and I think we did that. Today gave me the chance to see who this team is and what direction we are going to go in.”