With the month of March nearly free from competition, the men’s track and field team had time to focus on training for the spring season as they moved outdoors.
The Blue and Gold has shifted its focus to improving its conditioning as it enters the outdoor season as a more unified and motivated squad.
While many of the events remain the same during the transition from indoors to outdoors, some longer distances are added. The 60-meter dash is extended to 100 meters, and races such as the 4×100-meter relay are added to the list of events.
Freshman Matt Femia said the Blue and Gold lost their momentum toward the end of the indoor season, which resulted in disappointing finishes at the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championships on March 2 and 3. The Bombers were looking for a third straight top-five finish at the regional championships, but they placed 13th out of 62 schools.
“We started tapering off before states and ECACs because our conditioning wasn’t where it needed to be,” Femia said. “We raised our intensity in practice, and we are lifting more now.”
Freshman sprinter Kevin Davis said the Blue and Gold have shortened their breaks between circuit training, a combination of resistance training and high-intensity aerobics, and picked up the pacing of sprints during practice to improve their stamina.
Conditioning and event preparation were not the only things the squad worked on during their month off from competition. Davis said the extended break allowed the Bombers to build a stronger bond than they had during the indoor season.
“We were all grinding through the conditioning part of practices together and it made us more of a team,” he said.
Head Coach Jim Nichols believes the month off was used more efficiently this year because of the new facilities the track team has been able to use.
“The A&E Center has been great for us,” he said. “In past years we had to modify our practices and conditioning to work around the cold, and the A&E Center has allowed us to work hard straight through the offseason and into competition.”
Senior captain Dan Craighead believes the biggest adjustment the team had to make was the move outside itself.
“Getting used to the weather elements of outdoor racing will be our biggest challenge as a team,” Craighead said.
Nichols believes the training that the team is doing now is important for the meets in the following weeks, but it really pays off most toward the end of the season.
“You are not judged by your success early in the season,” Nichols said. “Over break we worked very hard for our competitions that are five weeks down the road. The exciting part about what we do is we look long-term and build for the end of the year.”
The high-intensity practicing and conditioning helped the Bombers get the bad taste from the end of the indoor season out of their mouths. The South Hill squad put forth a dominant performance Saturday in the Ithaca Invitational with 17 top-three finishes, including seven wins against top opponents such as Cornell University, SUNY-Cortland and Herkimer County Community College.
Femia and Davis had impressive showings in their outdoor debuts. Femia was the top finisher in the 200-meter dash at 23.66 seconds and placed third in the 400-meter dash, while Davis finished first in the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.61 seconds. Both runners were members of the first-place 4×100-meter relay team with junior Clay Ardoin and sophomore Brennan Edmonds.
Davis was not alone at the top of the men’s 100-meter dash leaderboard. Ardoin finished just one one-hundredth of a second behind Davis and freshman Rashaad Barrett finished in third with a time of 11.89 seconds.
Craighead said the Bombers’ time in the gym over this extended break should begin to pay dividends once the team begins competing outdoors on a regular basis.
“Our focus on fitness during March helped us greatly,” he said. “But we are going to look much better as a team once we are in the swing of racing again.”