By ELENA DE ALFREDO
UT men’s track team is travelling to Jacksonville, Fl. to compete at the University of North Florida (UNF) Spring Invite on March 24-25.
The UNF Invite is a high-level competition event, where the Spartans will be running against Division I schools, such as Florida State University, University of North Florida or Florida Atlantic University among others, as well as Division II schools from the Sunshine State Conference (SSC).
“Our 5,000 meters runners will be using this race as a tune-up for a big race the following week at the University of Florida,” junior Lars Benner said. “Our 800 meter and 1500 meter runners will be taking advantage of the high quality track and competition to beat their personal bests in their respective event–Likewise, the sprinters and hurdlers will be going for their personal bests at UNF.”
One of the advantages of competing in this event is the fact that UT distance runners will have the chance to race the 10,000-event, which consists of 25 laps on the track. “This is very hard mentally and not just physically,” head coach of the men’s team Dror Vaknin said. “If they do it and succeed this will set them up very well for cross country next year.”
This race is expected to be a great chance for the Spartans to show the progress the men’s track team has made, Vaknin said. “Many of [the runners] need this one good race to really solidify and believe in all the hard work they have done.”
Prior to the UNF Invite, UT ran at the the Embry-Riddle Last Chance Meet on Sunday, Feb. 18, setting a new school record in the Distance Meter Relay (DMR) with a time of 10:38:29. The relay team consists of Maus, Boria and Benner, and freshman Jakob Wikar.
Following this event, the Spartans competed against other Division I teams at the University of South Florida (USF) Open on March 17 and 18. Friday 17, Benner lead UT recording the best time for the Spartans at 15:24:99 and finishing 10th in 5,000 meters.
Also, Benner lead the Spartans in the 1500 meters, finishing fifth with a time of 4:04.35. In this same event, Maus secured a time of 4:09.25, finishing seventh and Boria was eighth after clocking in at 4:10.16.
The Spartans also hosted the annual UT Track Invite of March 3 competing against some schools from the SSC like Embry-Riddle, Florida Tech and Saint Leo.
Individually, Benner and junior Joey Maus led the Spartans in the 1500 meters, finishing second and third at 4:06.59. Also, senior Jessie Boria finished sixth in the 800 meters, while Benner was seventh. Collectively, UT men finished third in the 4×100 meter relay.
The goals of for the season are for pair of Spartans, Benner and Maus, to set the school mile record as well as Boria to break the 800 meter record, according to Vaknin.
Another of the objectives is to break the 5,000 meters record, while the freshman sprinters Wikar, D.J. Phelps and Vontrell Thomas have a chance to break their own personal running times.
Also, the Spartans are looking to take more risks to improve their racing times moving forward to their next scheduled meets. As a team, we work very good together in practice and we just try to convert it into racing,” senior distance runner Corey Munsch said. “Sometimes this is great for us other times we need to try to work together to get out our comfort zones—So risk-taking is something that we could work on as a team.”
After UNF, UT will be travelling to Gainesville to race at the University of Florida Invite on Thursday, March 30.