Though Tech’s track and field team had a two-week break between the ACC Indoor Championships in February and NCAA Indoor Championships that begin this weekend, they wasted no time preparing, as many of the Jackets are shooting for better results at the NCAA championships.
The women’s team is hoping to maintain the momentum that they brought to competition at ACCs, and the men’s team has been making a few tactical changes in hopes of moving up in rank.
Track is a sport of momentum; not only is momentum an important thing to take advantage of during competition, but it is an important force that athletes need to maintain throughout training. Momentum seems to be more important to track and field than any other sport.
As the ACC championships taught the Jackets this year, momentum is difficult to hold on to. Both the men’s and women’s teams had difficulty maintaining momentum throughout the three day championships. The women’s team began day one at No. 13 in the ACC, rising to the eighth slot on the second day of competition and ending day three at No. 10. Tech’s men’s team opened the championship No. 9 but lost their footing on the second day of competition falling to No. 14. They ended the ACC indoors at No. 13 in the conference.
Though there were some hurdles that the Jackets had to clear throughout the weekend (both literally and metaphorically), the ACC indoor championships were not completely dreary. In fact, there were many shining stars throughout the weekend for the women’s team. Bria Matthews brought Tech golds in both the triple jump and the long jump and was named MVP of the field event athletes. Carissa Tipler also performed phenomenally in the triple jump, just 0.9m under Matthews’s 13.08m jump. Finishing fifth in the 60m hurdles with a personal best time of 8.22 seconds, Kenya Collins earned second-team All-ACC honors, an impressive feat for the junior and the team as a whole.
On the men’s side of things, ACC indoors ended on a less positive note. Head coach Grover Hinsdale was not as satisfied with the men’s performance by the end of the championships. As he explained to ramblinwreck.com, “I was pleased with the fight in our team but disappointed in our final standing. There were a handful of events where we did not do what we were capable of doing, and it cost us a few places in the team standings.”
With six athletes on the men’s team earning personal records and four athletes earning All-ACC titles throughout the championship weekend, Hinsdale has plenty of reasons to be prideful. However, he is already looking ahead to NCAA Indoor Championships and beyond to ACC Outdoor Championships, as the loss of momentum on the second day of championship competition cost the men’s team more than it did the women’s. During the championships this weekend, the Jackets will be looking to maintain, and perhaps build, momentum throughout the competition.
The competition that the Jackets will be facing this weekend is definitely formidable. Ranked first in the NCAA in men’s track and field, Oregon will be perhaps the strongest competitors at the NCAA Indoor championships. Devon Allen, Oregon’s top hurdler, has a top time of 7.60 seconds, just 0.35 seconds under Tech’s Spencer Allen. Allen ran the 60m hurdles in 7.95 seconds and won bronze at the ACC indoor championships.
On the women’s side of things, Florida holds the top spot in the NCAA going into the indoor championships. Florida is home to two of the nation’s top triple jumpers: Darrielle McQueen and Yanis David. McQueen, second in the nation in the triple jump, will also compete at NCAA indoors in the long jump. McQueen’s personal best indoor long jump is 12.86m, 0.22m less than Tech’s Bria Matthews jumped at ACC indoors in February.
There’s no doubt that the Jackets have what it takes to be competitive in the NCAA Indoor Championship against such tough competition. The only problem that they could face is consistency, the hallmark of a team in contention for titles.
The goal is to consistently improve, but before looking to reach a higher level of performance, first the Jackets must be able to consistently perform at a solid level. That will remain their goal.