The men and women’s track and field teams are ready to lace up their shoes for the outdoor season with hopes of adding a few All-Americans to the roster and a run at nationals. The teams will travel to the Emporia State Relays on April 1 to start their season.
Coach Phil Groves enters his seventh season as assistant coach for both the men and women’s teams and is proud of the support the two programs show to each other. The men and women practice and train together and travel to the same meets while pushing teammates to their highest potential.
“The team this year has had some setbacks but they still come in and work hard and really exemplify what we want and we want great athletes, great students but better people,” Groves said. “Some bigger schools have split men and women’s programs but I prefer having both genders working together because we’re like a family here.”
University of Kansas commit Josh Washington walked onto the team and has worked hard enough to earn a scholarship to compete next year as a Jayhawk while enjoying his time as a Cavalier by working closely with the women’s team.
“Being able to have both men’s and women’s teams practice, compete and support each other is cool because it’s a unique opportunity we have here,” Washington said. “You don’t see that in any other sport and it’s not something I take for granted, I love it.”
The men and women’s teams share their coaching staff that consists of Mike and Katherine Bloemker and Phil Groves. Many athletes on the track team chose Johnson County because of the staff.
MidAmerica Nazarene commit Jana Kotzman chose to compete as a Cavalier after some encouragement from the coaching staff and believes that coming to Johnson County was the best decision she ever made.
“I chose to run at JCCC because I knew the program would help develop me into a better athlete so I could eventually compete at the next level,” Kotzman said. “The coaches approached me at the end of high school and really believed this team would be a good fit for me and that I was capable of more than I thought I was.”
Kotzman said that with the long season it can be tough to stay healthy so throughout the fall semester it is important for the team to consistently train.
“It really is a challenge to stay healthy throughout the season so from August to December we are running hard workouts and lifting heavy weights,” Kotzman said. “It’s all about getting stronger and developing the speed we need and the off season is the time of year where we really get our conditioning in and technique down.”
Sophomore high jumper Justine Paton hopes to qualify for nationals for a second consecutive year and become an All-American athlete while enjoying her final outdoor track season at the college.
“My goals are to qualify again for outdoor nationals and hopefully get a new personal record and as a team I would say our goal is to compete for new records and have fun doing it,” Paton said. “My favorite thing about outdoor track season is being able to compete outdoors and there’s something about the smell of the track that brings back happy memories and gets me motivated.”