Adam Ziobrowski, Staff Writer
Utica College men’s and women’s outdoor track and field entered the 2018 season with the same goal but from a different perspective.
The men’s team is coming off an Empire 8 championship last season, looking to capture another this season. At the same time, the women’s team will be searching for their first Empire 8 championship in program history.
Head coach Eric Parker made it clear those were the goals for this season.
“The goal for men is to defend the Empire 8 championship, the goal for women is to earn the first track and field Empire 8 championship,” Parker said. “We have a solid squad of men and women, and we hope to contend in many event areas for Empire 8 titles.”
Sophomore Maddy Smith, who holds the javelin distance record at UC, said the women have a very good chance of capturing their first Empire 8 title.
“We have a quality team this year, and we have a lot of girls who have been practicing for a couple of years now and have their forms and approaches down,” Smith said. “We’ve also been hitting the weights more to beef up, and our facilities really help.”
Sophomore Chris Fisk, who shares the UC record for pole vault height and won the recent Empire 8 Indoor Track and Field Pole Vault Championship, is feeling good about the men’s team’s chances of repeating this season.
“It looks as if we have a strong team this season, and we’re hungry to defend the Empire 8 title,” Fisk Said. “It also helps having our facility (the dome) back to practice and compete in.”
Many of the outdoor track and field athletes at UC also compete in indoor track and field. Parker mentioned how that it is a common trend at UC.
“Typically athletes continue on from indoor to outdoor as one training plan unless they do a different spring sport,” Parker said.
There are some correlations between indoor and outdoor track and field. However, Parker noted the many differences between the sport that is played in two different seasons.
“Outdoor has some different events such as the 100-meter versus 60-meter sprint, the 100-hurdles for women and 110-hurdles for men versus 60-meter hurdles, there’s no distance meter running, the hammer throw versus weight throw, 1500-meter long distance in outdoor versus the mile decathlon for men versus the heptathlon, the heptathlon for women versus pentathlon,” Parker said.
Some additional events are the 4x100m relay, javelin, discus, 400-hurdles, 10,000-meter and the 3000-meter steeplechase. The track is also larger during outdoor than it is in the 400-meter oval versus a 200-meter oval.”
Smith looks forward to outdoor each year because of the countless hours she spends preparing in the offseason.
“I look forward to outdoor because I practice for outdoor throughout the entire indoor season with the hope that it puts me on top in the beginning of the season,” Smith said.
Coming off a conference title brings along some pressure for the men’s team. However, Fisk mentioned that the pressure is not so much external but more internal.
“There’s always pressure to repeat and perform and the same level as before,” Fisk said. “The pressure isn’t so much from the coaches but mostly from us, including myself, wanting to do better and become better in out sport. The coaches always push us to improve and be better, but personally it’s more so me wanting to become better on my own.”
There is also pressure surrounding the women’s team as they are picked to win the Empire 8, Smith said. However, it looks as if the hard work the team has put in is set to pay off.
“There is a ton of pressure on our girls,” Smith said. “We are predicted to win based on our past performances, which makes it more nerve-wracking. We are expected to set the bar for the season, and the team has been working hard on accomplishing that.”