This past weekend saw the men and women’s track teams of UNCG head to Johnson City Tennessee for the Southern Conference indoor championships. This meet capped off the indoor season for the Spartans, who will now move on to outdoor track. The SoCon championships took place over two days, with distance runners and sprinters alike taking on competition from across the Southeast. For many Spartans, this conference championship was their first. By the same measure, the weekend represented the last stab at indoor track for the Spartan athletes graduating in May. The weekend saw new personal best times and placements in the finals. Here are some selected individuals’ stories from the meet.
Alex Roy is a freshman from Clayton, North Carolina. He stands around 5’10” and like most distance runners is as skinny as a rail. His first college cross country season in the fall was hampered by a knee injury. Despite this, Alex came back from winter break in top form – soon after the first race everyone realized that he was back in business. Over the course of the indoor season, Alex proved himself to be an exceedingly smart racer. He races with a tenacity not often seen of someone his age – he is willing to hang with the big dogs, pushing back when pushed and taking calculated risks when the need arises.
Two weeks before the conference meet, Alex conquered a feat it takes many athletes at programs of UNCG’s caliber until their junior or senior years. He broke 8:50 for the 3000m. Typically a miler, this 3k was particularly impressive because of the competition Alex took down in the process – plenty of ACC runners were well behind Alex that day. More than just an impressive race, however, this 3k also qualified Alex for the fast heat of the 5000m at conference.
Alex had never run a track 5k prior to this past weekend. The conference meet is certainly a tough place to do your first long track race. Nevertheless, Alex went after the competition with his typical ferocity. Unfortunately, as the race unfolded, this competition began to wear Alex out. After the race was over, his brooding expression prompted the rest of the team to give him ample space. The first words out of his mouth were something along the lines of, “I am ready for outdoor season.” In other words, the difficulties of indoor have been forgotten, and Alex is ready to make another attempt at the 5k soon.
Andre’a Hopkins is known on the UNCG track team as a unifier. Many of the UNCG track athletes also run cross country. Andre’a is one of the select few that runs track exclusively, focusing on shorter distances. She does significant work to bridge the gap between the sprint squad and the distance squad. Just a sophomore, Andre’a is respected for her leadership both among the sprinters and the distance runners. The sprint events in indoor track are limited to the 60m, the 200m, and the 400m. Andre’a ran the 200m on Saturday, the first day of the meet. Unfortunately, she did not make it out of the preliminary round, but her performance was impressive nonetheless.
Fresh off the plane from the USATF Junior Cross Country National Championships, freshman Taylor Delaney knew well before the Southern Conference championships that she would have a long weekend of racing ahead of her. A mid-distance specialist, Taylor ran both the 800m and the mile this past weekend. Both of these events require competitors to make it through a round of preliminaries on Saturday before the finals on Sunday. Taylor made it through both preliminary rounds on Saturday, an impressive feat for a freshman.
Up first for Taylor this past weekend were the mile prelims. There would be two heats of prelims with top three finishers of each heat qualifying automatically. Following those three would be the next six fastest times. Taylor finished fourth in her heat just outside of an automatic qualifier. After a few tension-fraught minutes, she discovered that she had made finals off of time. A similar course of events took place in the 800m preliminaries. In that case, there were four heats with the winner of each qualifying automatically and the next four fastest times making the final. Finishing third in her prelim heat, Taylor was the last one in based on time. In the mile and the 800m finals, she placed 7th and 8th, respectively, bringing home a total of three points for the Spartans.