The women’s track and field team is preparing to take on a much higher level of competition this weekend at Notre Dame’s Meyo Invitational.
It is expected that more than 80 universities from around the nation will be in attendance for Saturday’s meet. Track and field director Willie Randolph has been stressing focus to his players.
“(Our players) need to focus on the end result being a conference meet and trusting and buying into what the coaches have prepared,” Randolph said.
Coming off of a performance last week at the GVSU Quad, in which the team finished in third place out of four teams, earning 97 points, Randolph was neither upset nor pleased with his team. This time around, however, he expects his squad to make the proper adjustments.
“Anytime you go out in practice, as a coach, you really want them to start to own their mental focus,” Randolph said. “Now, we’re looking for them to start owning up and start having a certain amount of confidence that’s growing from their work ethic.”
With a large number of schools attending this meet, Randolph has also kept his same mindset, in which individual placement is not the number-one goal. A long season is keeping Randolph and his team motivated for conference season.
“At the end of the day, the conference meet is the only place where placement and point total will matter,” Randolph said. “Right now, it’s about times, marks and throws going in the direction they need to be.”
Among those competing at Notre Dame will be senior distance runner Maddie Ribant, who qualified in the 3000m with a time of 9:45.25 last weekend at Indiana. After her last performance, Ribant looks to keep up her same level of performance.
“After last week, I learned a little bit about trying to put myself out there,” Ribant said. “I think I can use the past experience I’ve had to help guard me.”
Competing alongside her teammates has added pressure and has motivated her throughout the season, and, according to Ribant, she tends to pressure herself from time to time as well.
“I put pressure on myself every time I race,” Ribant said. “Coach has expectations for everyone, but each race is a new race, and you just have to take each one at a time and not let the pressure overtake you.”
Pressure is something the Chippewas will be facing as they head into South Bend, but director Randolph chooses not to look at school names, but rather individual performers.
“I don’t give much respect to names of schools,” Randolph said. “For me, it’s a higher-level meet, but I know our athletes are able to compete with the best of the best; we just have to believe in that.”