Track and Field makes strong presence at UVA

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Taylor Newman

tnewman5@radford.edu

 

In the midst of transitioning from indoor to outdoor, the Radford track and field team is having to battle through rain and snow and wind this season. With weather playing a factor in ability to practice, the Highlanders are pushing through, proving to be fearless in competition thus far.

Most recently, RU took home a pair of victories at the UVA Invitational. Senior Kaise White won the 400m dash by almost a whole second after clocking in at 48.24 seconds and sophomore Joseph Betts then got first in the 200m dash with a time of 21.53 seconds.

Betts just missed winning the 100m dash, falling .01 second short. He finished second with a time of 10.90 seconds while classmate Chris Henryfinished sixth with a time of 11.41 seconds. Henry added a top-10 in the 200m dash with a time of 23.83 seconds.

“It was a good gauge to see where we are with other schools in the state,” said assistant track coach Mark White.

RU also looked hot at the Wake Forest Invitational, posting two top-10 finishes and three personal records overall. Sophomore sprinter Vincent Wyatt broke both a school and Big South record with a time of 13.81 in the 110m hurdles, which is currently the No.1 fastest time in the East region. Senior thrower Curtis Hodge placed second in the hammer throw. Freshman Ashlen Veatch was also successful, throwing a USA Junior National Championships-qualifying 52.03m mark in the women’s hammer throw.

In lieu of how well Wyatt was in the indoor season, this past week he competed in the NCAA Indoor Championships held at the University of Arkansas. Wyatt earned his opportunity by holding one of the top 16 times in the nation.

Unfortunately, Wyatt didn’t perform as well at nationals as hoped. He hit both the first two hurdles and stumbled out of his lane, so he was unable to finish the race.

“Getting there is such an accomplishment in itself, however,” said coach White. “The first time at a national championship is unlike anything ever before and hopefully he’ll have the opportunity again.”

Now as the team moves into the heart of the outdoor season, the Highs are looking to make a smooth transition. Although it depends on the event, jumpers and sprinters have to adjust to the air outside. Also, the runners have to adapt to the track. Inside is tighter and outside is wider; the entire scope is a change.

When describing the Highs track and field team, overall depth in each event has grown immensely over the years.

“When I got here, we had really good athletes in only one or two events,” said head track and field coach Brent Chumbley. “Our depth is now getting stronger whereas we can put a quality athlete at each event.”

Regardless of the lingering unpredictable weather that athletes must face in Radford, the track and field team is able to push on without the indoor facility or warm weather that other schools get the luxury of having. Once the outdoor season hits, the track team wants to be outside every day. However, some things are impossible to do when its 25 degrees and the wind is blowing 30 mph. For this, the team and coaches have learned to adapt to the ghastly weather.

“Our athletes know that they’re at a disadvantage,” said coach Chumbley. “It’s a testament to them that they battle through it.”

In essence, it is safe to say all track and field coaches

are very proud of the student athletes. As coaches, the most rewarding part of the job is being able to watch the athletes succeed. As described by Chumbley, getting to take Wyatt to the national championship and watching his expression when they walked through the arena is priceless.

With the hard time of managing a variety of events and athletes, in general, the coaches have to be flexible in shifting gears. The overall expectations are just for the athletes to run fast, jump high, jump far and throw far, competing to the best level they can. So far this season, it’s easy to see the Highs have been in the midst of greatness.