Following back-to-back Liberty League outdoor titles, the Ithaca College men’s track and field team is getting ready to head back outside for the spring season.
Although they still have to stay on top of the indoor season for a little bit longer — the National Championships are on March 10 — junior Brendan Sheehan said the team has been preparing to start the outdoor season while also staying healthy for the end of indoor season.
“Everyone’s dialing back the amount of work we’re doing,” Sheehan said. “Still keeping that intensity really high during practices, getting those full-effort sprints in, but not doing nearly as many as we have been doing the previous months.”
For the most part, Sheehan said, the indoor and outdoor seasons are the same. However, the switch from the 200-meter track used for the indoor season and the 400-meter track used for the outdoor season makes for some differences in training for events that use that surface. Head coach Jim Nichols said the outdoor season also brings new events for the team — hammer, discus and javelin throws, 110- and 400-meter hurdles and steeplechase.
In addition, the wind and other weather conditions can play a small factor, especially in jumping and throwing events. Sheehan, who has been competing in the heptathlon during indoor season and will compete in his first decathlon in the outdoor season, said he is ready to try out a new event.
“Last year, I was mainly just a vaulter with a couple sprints here and there,” Sheehan said. “I haven’t done a dec[athlon] yet, but I did hept[athlon] last year — unsuccessfully, but this year it’s going pretty well.”
Junior Conor Ryan also said there was not a big difference between the two seasons, but said that, as a middle-distance runner, he needs to change his mentality and strategy for the longer length of track. Ryan runs the 400- and 800-meter events but has not run the 800 yet this season.
“For me, mentally, it’s the laps,” Ryan said. “I didn’t want to get into the groove of running four laps and then go to outdoor season. … I like keeping that to two laps instead of four because that’s a pretty painful race.”
Sheehan added that he and the other upperclassmen on the roster need to help lead by example, even if they are not the captains. Although he would not consider himself one of the biggest leaders on the team, he said there is always something he can help teach — and learn.
“I lead more by actions and showing what’s expected of the team,” Sheehan said. “But I’m still learning stuff from [the seniors]. And then I reciprocate that knowledge down to our younger teammates.”
The indoor season proved to be a strong one for the men’s team. The Bombers broke several school records, including senior thrower Justin Showstead breaking a 40-year-old record in the shot put. Sheehan said that the impressive indoor season bodes well for a competitive outdoor season.
“If you’re doing well indoor, you’ll usually end up running the same times,” Sheehan said. “You might taper it back a little bit for the first few weeks to let your body recover … but if you have a good indoor [season], you usually have a pretty good outdoor [season].”
If the team wants to compete at a high level during the outdoor season, though, it cannot simply coast through the schedule, no matter how well the indoor season turns out. Nichols said there is always room to get better, faster and stronger.
“To compete for an outdoor championship, we need to build on our indoor season and continue to have individual and team improvements to build depth,” Nichols said via email.
As the season goes on, Ryan said he is excited for the team to get the opportunity to compete at the Penn Relays — the oldest track and field competition in the country — on April 27 and 28 at the University of Pennsylvania. The event has happened every year since 1895 before being shut down in 2020 and 2021 because of COVID-19.
“It’s a very prestigious meet,” Ryan said. “The Penn Relays hold national-type stuff. … When I was in high school, Team USA went up against Jamaica in the 4×100 [relay].”
In terms of the rest of the season, Ryan said he had high expectations for everyone on the team, but there are a few athletes who he said could have very good seasons.
“Expect to see some really fast races, some really impressive throws [and] some far jumps,” Ryan said. “Keep an eye out for [seniors] Andy Frank and Nate Oczkowski. Both of those two athletes have some big promises they want to deliver on.”
Following the end of the indoor season, the Bombers will get three full weeks to rest and recover before launching back into competition. They start outdoor competition at the Muhlenberg Invitational at 10 a.m. April 1 in Allentown, Pennsylvania.