By David Hurtado
As the crisp morning air and frost-coated windows begin to withdraw, sporting events for the spring semester are kicking into gear. The men’s and women’s track teams, who opened their 2013 season in January, are off to a promising start.
Sophomore thrower Caniggia Raynor set a new school record at 62-8.5 in the weight throw on Jan. 25 at the Fieldhouse. The same day, during the Cavalier Night Relays, sophomore Monet Jackson broke the women’s record in the same event, finishing at 56-1.75.
Phil Groves, assistant coach, track and field, said he attributes the success of the student athletes toward hard work and determination.
“Our desire to work hard and get better every day, that’s spread throughout the team,” Groves said. “We’ve got some really good leaders in our sophomores, and they’ve helped mentor our younger kids along. We try wholeheartedly toward achieving excellence. That’s our motto.”
Groves added the team has quite a few new faces this season, including new javelin throwers and jumpers.
Last year, the Lady Cavaliers finished up the season taking fifth place overall at the NJCAA Outdoor Championships at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas. The men’s team completed the season with 12th place overall.
Mike Bloemker, head coach, track and field, said replicating the same success the teams saw last season is a top priority.
“We would like to repeat as regent champs,” Bloemker said. “That would be the first goal.”
Groves said one of the major challenges the teams faced prior to the start of the season was the difficulty of training in an indoor facility.
“Having our facility resurfaced over the winter break and not being able to train inside, that was a bit of a challenge,” he said. “Just dealing with some weather issues and practice restrictions, but that’s a challenge that every school faces. We’ve managed to deal with it.”
As for the competition, Groves said both teams have faced a healthy dose of it.
“Competition’s been good,” he said. “Our region is pretty deep, there are quite a few good schools in the Kansas area and nationwide. We’ve seen a lot of good competition from Division I and Division II schools that we compete against as well.”
Groves went on to say the camaraderie amongst the student athletes is strong.
“Team chemistry is awesome,” he said. “I don’t have to worry about doing running lists; we can just put them together with whoever. Everybody gets along very well. I think it really helps the team overall.”
Kurt Vukas, sophomore, said he runs the 800m and 1500m and feels like the season has gone pretty well for him so far. He said he feels like much of his hard work is beginning to pay off, but acknowledged he could still improve.
“It’s about seeing how far your body can go; pushing it and seeing where your limits are at,” Vukas said. “Then you push past those limits and find them again.”
Contact David Hurtado, staff reporter, at firstname.lastname@example.org.