On Wednesday, January 11, the men and women’s track teams of UNCG returned to campus in preparation for the upcoming season. Over winter break, the Spartans were hard at work, with distance runners routinely running over ten miles a day and sprinters hitting the weight room and the track on a daily basis. Many of the student-athletes who will run in the distance events (namely those competing in the mile and longer races) this spring are coming off of the cross country season that ended in November. All of this work over the break from school was done in anticipation of the indoor track season, which will last until late February, and the outdoor track season, which will last until mid-May.
The Spartans had their first meet of the 2017 season at Virginia Tech two days after their return. The Blue and Gold view this first race of the year as a rust buster of sorts, trying to get back into the swing of things. The Virginia Tech meet represents, for many of those competing, their first race in well over a month. Many of the student-athletes run in events that they would not normally run. Many of the runners who would normally run the 3000m or the 5000m stepped down to the mile, while many 400m and 800m athletes ran in the 1000m or longer. In other words, the meet was a good chance for the runners to gauge their fitness without worrying about running in their favored events.
Despite running in off events, impressive results were seen all around, with many athletes showing a lot of promise for the races to come. Following a cross country season cut short by injury, freshman Alex Roy of Clayton, North Carolina, lowered his personal best in the mile to 4:32 from the 4:36 he ran at an indoor meet just before winter break. Senior Dakarai Shipp of Raleigh, North Carolina, ran a gutsy 2:40 in the 1000m. In addition, freshman Taylor Delaney of Hope Mills, North Carolina, won her heat of the 1000m in 2:58, leading the race from start to finish on Virginia Tech’s 200m indoor track.
The student-athletes will look to these results as motivation for when they race in their normal events this Sunday at UNCG’s home meet, which will be hosted at the JDL Indoor Track Facility in Winston Salem. The two weeks separating the Virginia Tech Meet and the home meet will give the Spartans the opportunity to get some more workouts under their belts and to prepare mentally for Sunday’s competition. In addition, any runners dealing with lingering injuries will have the chance to recover their bodies in time for the Winston Salem meet.
The rest of the indoor season will likely include four to five more races before the Southern Conference indoor championships on February 25 and 26. That meet will be hosted by East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee. In the weeks to come, the Spartans will hone their racing skills and their fitness in preparation for these championships. Many of the meets the blue and gold will run this indoor season will be hosted at the aforementioned JDL facility in Winston Salem.
Following a brief respite, the UNCG track teams will move on to the outdoor season, which will kick off in early March at the Seahawk Invitational at UNCW in Wilmington, North Carolina. As with the indoor season, the student-athletes will expect to race about once every two weeks until the conference meet. The outdoor conference championships will be hosted by Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. Major outdoor meets include Raleigh Relays hosted by North Carolina State University. This major meet attracts nationwide talent and will see the Blue and Gold face their stiffest competition prior to the Southern Conference Championships. For now, however, the Spartans have their sights set on performing well in their regular events at their home meet on Sunday.