The men’s track and field team will spilt up this weekend when most of the team travels to Notre Dame’s Meyo Invitational and throwers head to the Findlay Open.
The Meyo Invite will feature a plethora of big name schools, while the Findlay Open, at the University of Findlay in Ohio, better accommodates the need track and field director Willie Randolph has for his throwers.
“Findlay is where the throwers are going to go, because they need a specific type of throwing environment and throwing reps,” Randolph said. “At Notre Dame, there’s a higher level of competition for all of the sprinting events and with the distance, the mile, 5k and hurdles. There will be people from LSU, Georgia, Florida and all over the country that are going to be there. There’s a higher level of competition, so you get that feeling where it’s tense like at a conference competition.”
Each week, Randolph and his staff decide what meet to send their athletes to based on what they need to have to prepare for the championship season. The Meyo Invitational will have more than 80 schools contributing their male and female runners and will take place today and Saturday.
The Mid-American Conference championship will be similarly long and will feature a diverse array of competitors. Randolph will look to use this environment to simulate the kinds of meets his runners will be participating in further down the road.
“Having a preliminary race on Friday and the final on Saturday, it’s exactly like the conference championships,” Randolph said. “It gives us a benefit for the fact that the conference championship is two days in a row. It lets you know exactly where your strength level is at and lets the athletes know what they have to do two days in a row.”
As the season progresses, the young Chippewas track team has been growing quickly. Last week, four athletes qualified for the MAC championships. Senior Alex Rose qualified in the shot put with a throw of 16.99m, junior Ryan Brooks qualified in the 60m dash with a time of 6.91, sophomore Kyle Stacks qualified for the 3000m run with a time of 8:18.81, and sophomore Ethan Lievense qualified in the mile with a time of 4:10.03.
“I think we kind of just work up this year and realized that we had the power to really have something good come out of this team,” Stacks said. “So, we figured that if we can all get together and buckle down, then good things will come out of this program.”
Randolph has stressed the importance of mentally preparing as a team. This week, he expects the agressive mood in Notre Dame will sharpen his players’ will.
“It’s getting better because, we have a young team, but we’re maturing in this limited time frame, and they’re seeing that their hard work is starting to come together,” Randolph said. “Seeing your times getting better makes you start to see that it’s a process, and you accept that more when you see it happen versus looking from the outside in.”