As the women’s track and field team gradually grows, so does the number of opportunities. Last season, there were a handful of events that the team was not able to be represented in. According to Head Coach Jerry Arvin, who has led the team since 1995, the team is now has at least one individual capable of participating in each event.
“We’ve got a lot of new faces. We’ve got 51 girls, last year we had 43 and the year before that we had 34. It’s a much bigger group to handle, and we’re covering many more events than we did the past couple years,” said Arvin. “Last year there were two or three events we didn’t even enter because we didn’t have anyone to do them. This year, barring too many injuries, we’ll have people in every event. We’re excited about that.”
When asked about which additional events the women’s track and field team will be participating in, Coach Arvin mentioned both a key injury and the lack of throwers as reasons for why the team was not able to participate in every event last season.
“Last year we had one girl throwing the shot, nobody throwing the hammer, one girl throwing the discus and nobody throwing the javelin. We’ll have girls who will be able to do all of those,” said Arvin. “Starr Rodenhurst we had to redshirt last year because she had an injury to her ACL… We think she’s going to be a very good javelin thrower.”
Arvin also said that Zoe Pappas and Maya Jackson, two transfer students, are available to throw this year, giving them “a couple hammer throwers, couple in javelin, discus and shot.”
Still, even with a larger roster, the injury bug can still linger as a major issue. Senior high jumper Kate Kalley was sidelined for most of last season with an Achilles injury, and has more recently been dealing with a high ankle sprain.
“I’m starting small jumps… assisted squat jumps,” said Kalley. “I’m getting back, and I have every intention of competing.”
Even when dealing with injury, Kalley said that perfecting one’s habits is one of the biggest keys in practice for all team members, including herself, which is much more mental than physical.
“A whole lot of us are kind of reworking bad habits out and working in good technique,” said Kalley. “The way muscle memory works is when you do things a lot, you kind of ingrain that into your neural pathways, and when you do that, you can’t stop it as easily. I have this certain thing where when I jump up, my lead leg will go back down in the middle of jumping and that’s obviously not the correct way it should be going.”
According to Coach Arvin, Kalley is not the only team member dealing with some sort of injury.
“We still have eight to ten girls in the training room who are not cleared to compete,” said Arvin. “Fifty-one sounds like a lot, but when you’re down 10, you’re at 41. Just depends on who they are and what the extent of the injury is. It can be devastating like it was for our cross country team this year.”
While the injury bug can be majorly disadvantageous for the team, senior sprinter Morgan Brandt said that being sidelined for most of last season allowed her to take “a good step back.”
“I ran like two meets and the rest of the year was kind of just watching and helping out,” said Brandt. “It was a good step back that I think I needed. I think I was kind of burning myself out and it helped me take more of a backseat role with the girls by helping them out instead of competing alongside them.”
While injuries can set a team back, it’s one of the primary reasons why a larger team has its advantages. Coming into this season, Coach Arvin said that there is a lot of potential within the team when it comes to its talent and youth.
“We’re still young, we’ve got a few seniors, a lot of juniors, lot of sophomores, and quite a few freshmen,” said Arvin. “We’re just happy to get started competing, because once we start we just keep going from there.”
The team’s first official event was the Mangrum Invitational in San Marcos on Feb. 24. Key individual performances included third place in the 200-meter dash by freshman Amanda Herrington (26.40), third place in the 3000-meter run by junior Hannah Benoit-Bucher (10:24.78), first place in the 3000-meter steeplechase by junior Marissa Bartello (11:28.38), second place in the 400-meter dash by junior Lauren Wuertz (1:00.42), first place in the pole vault by junior Celine Lum (10 ft 10 in), second place in the javelin throw by sophomore Starr Rodenhurst (136 ft 6.25 in), and second place in the hammer throw by junior Maya Jackson (101 ft 3.75 in). Out of three schools, the team finished in third place overall with a score of 117, just three points shy of Cal State Marcos and 27 points shy of UC San Diego.
The team’s next meet will be the San Diego Collegiate Challenge on Mar. 10 at La Jolla. The first home meet will be the Ross & Sharon Irwin Collegiate Scoring Meet on Mar. 17.