BY JULIA WHEELEHAN
As the 2018 track and field season begins, the Spartans traveled to Daytona Beach for their season opener against Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, their long-time NCAA Division II rival. There, the UT track and field teams competed against 22 schools.
Longtime track and field distance runner, freshman Monika Brill was looking forward to her first track meet of her collegiate career. She races on the cross-country team in the fall and had gotten used to the idea of long-distance racing, however she was new to short distance races relying on speed.
“I was excited to see what would happen,” Brill said. “However, I was a bit nervous, not knowing what to expect.”
Despite her worries, Brill finished ninth in the 3,000 meters race, with a time of 10:41.97. This season she ultimately plans on running races anywhere from 800 meters to 5,000 meters.
“I like the atmosphere of track,” Brill said “It’s so lively and exited and my favorite part about competing is running good times. This meet, I wasn’t really happy with my 3k time, but it was a lot of fun because we raced each other and it got intense.”
As the reason continues, Brill will focus on the competition from other schools.
“Our biggest competition this season would be Saint Leo,” she said, “they are so good and have lots of upperclassmen that are good.”
Freshman James Dooley was also looking forward to his first race on the track team. “Going into the meet I felt pretty good,” Dooley said. “I felt fit and strong.”
Dooley was eager to start off his first season on the collegiate field as a new racer.
“Testing your limits and pushing beyond them, competing and getting the adrenaline rush and rewarding yourself for the hard work you put in behind the scenes is what makes it worth it,” Dooley said.
Senior Mitch Arnold, was looking forward to going into the first track and field meet of his last season. “We have been doing a lot of long, tough workouts and I was at my highest weekly mileage in almost a year,” he said, “but I felt ready and excited to race to see what kind of shape I’m currently in.”
This is Arnold’s last year at UT and he is ready to finish on a high note.
“I started running cross country and track in high school because my dad always ran for as long as I could remember so I figured I’d give it a try. Here I am 8 years later,” said Arnold.
Kayla Sullivan is also have her last season on the track. She has run long distance while on the team and had been running track since middle school.
“I was excited for the meet at Embry-Riddle,” she said, “however, it was bittersweet because it was my last first meet ever. I was excited to see everyone finally show their stuff in races.”
She finished in fifth place, with a time of 3:11.84 in the 1,000 meters race, leading four other Spartans across the finish line.
“Overall, I think everyone ran really well and it’s a good indicator how the rest of the season is going to go,” she said.
Sophomore Kam Burns has competed on track teams other than UT in the past. She started racing at Southern Connecticut State University during her freshman year, then transferred over to UT over the summer. Burns placed fifth at 1:48.82 in the 600 meters race.
“Next time I can definitely see myself putting more effort into gym time and eating habits in order to improve my performance,” Burns said. “I know what to expect now.”
Freshman Mia Yancy, has been recovering from knee surgery since November. She regularly runs the 100 meters and 200 meters dash.
“I was back to training nearly a month post-op,” Yancy said. “But I still wasn’t as prepared as the other competitors, but I know I’m getting better. I know I need to train harder than the rest to get back to where I used to be.”
However, as the season progresses, all of the runners have expressed desires to improve themselves and to get better personal bests.
“I think that I could be mentally more into it and try to keep a solid pace like we do at practice,” Brill said, referencing the 3K race she recently participated in this past weekend.
Joseph Weber, a junior distance runner, has high hopes for the 2018 track team.
“I thought we showed great efforts all around both on both men and women’s sides for the first meet. Several personal bests and a school record,” he said.
The University of Tampa Track Invitational, is the next meet for the track team. The race takes place on March 2nd, at home.
Julia Wheelehan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org