A tornado warning, which had athletes and officials scampering for safety at the Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville track, signaled the end of an eventful season for the track and field athletes.
Sophomore Drew Clark and freshman Jacob Meier were warming up for their next races, which were only two minutes away, when an announcement came over the public address system that because of a tornado warning, everybody should proceed to their vehicles. “It was scary because we did not even reach our cars before we were diverted to a concrete building which looked like a storage room with athletic equipment. It actually looked like a garage,” Clark explained. The rest of the races were cancelled.
Throughout the season, individual performances set the track and field ablaze, and many runners and throwers recorded personal bests.
Clark and Meier spoke about what it takes to be a top track athlete. Besides the metaphysical and physical preparations, top athletes must eat a balanced diet and keep up with the demanding schoolwork.
Because they do two different races, the training is slightly different. Meier and Clark ran for 40-50 minutes daily during the season. In a week, Meier covered 40-45 miles while Clark ran 60-70 miles. But both do a mandatory daily schedule of 40-50 minutes of strength and endurance training under the watchful eyes of coach Philip Green. Clark said nothing beats the feeling of finishing a tough work out and warming down. “Preparation for my next race begins immediately after the end of my last race in a meet. That is when I review my performance and set new targets,” Clark explained.
Meier has recorded tremendous improvement in his specialty, the 800-meter. His eyes are set on bettering his personal best of 1:57.66. Clark made concerted efforts to qualify into the NCAA Division III National Championship by racing in the 3,000 steeplechase in Indiana at the Bill Hayes Invitational.
There is an air of friendship among the athletes, who treat each other like brothers and sisters. Four women on the track team deserve a special mention. They are senior Stacey Bird, sophomore Mackenzie Olson, senior Kateland Oakes, and sophomore Ana Liuzzi. Their fellow athletes characterized them as amazing and courageous ladies. At Illinois College’s mid-week Quad Invitational in April, Liuzzi and Olson paired up in the 5-kilometer and scooped the top two positions at 20:58.77 and 20:58.83 respectively. Bird was second in the 1500-meter run with 5:26.41. For the first time since 1991, Principia College women’s track and field team made it to Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville for the SLIAC Conference Invitational, which was held on April 24.
Although the athletes admit that there is great team effort, individual brilliance has been the order of the day. Two sprinters, junior Oyintari Aboro and sophomore Daniel Osae, recorded very fast times. Aboro’s best time in the 100-meter was 11.21 seconds, which put him among the top 10 list in the collegiate competition, and he also had fun in the triple jump, leaping to 12.37 meters. Osae ran a 24:58 for a personal outdoor best in the 200-meter, joined by Aboro at 23:97. Sophomore Dana Gaubatz was fastest at 22:93.
In the field events, senior Grant Grieshaber was consistent in the throws. As the most active participant on the men’s team, Grieshaber competed in three or four events at each meet. His best throw was 37.24 meters at the discus, 37.36 meters in the hammer, 12.2 meters in the shotput and a personal best in the javelin with 42.80 meters.
Coaching by Geoff Hinchman, the assistant coach for throws, largely contributed to Grieshaber’s stunning performance during the season. At the SIU-Edwardsville competition, Grieshaber’s throws raked in 34 points for Principia College.
Freshmen Philip Riley and Nick Larsen exerted pressure on senior Justin Sinichko in the 1500-meter category. A devastating kick by Sinichko at Lincoln College earned him a time of 4:16.67 and a first place finish. Riley and Larsen, who have a bright future, recorded 4:57.78 and 5:00.18.
It is time to take stock for the season. The athletes still engage in light training but nothing near as intensive as during the season.