Nearing the end of Head Coach Jerry Arvin’s 24th season with the women’s track and field team, there is a lot of recognition to go around. In a sport that recognizes the accolades of individuals, each member has their own moments and opportunities to shine in the presence of competition.
Yet, despite each member specializing in the events that they excel in, there is a team dynamic amongst the group that must not be unnoticed.
“It’s fun getting to watch everyone doing different events,” said senior runner Alex Hernandez when asked to compare her experience in track and field to cross country. “The team is so much bigger, so the family gets bigger… Running here specifically at Loma has formed me as a person with my teammates who are my best friends.”
Because track and field is individual-based, one may expect team members to become exclusively focused on their own events. But that isn’t the case for this team; at the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational, freshman Freda Kellenberg finished just one point short of the PLNU record for the heptathlon. While she did not have much to say about her accomplishment, aside from “It could’ve been better,” at least one teammate participating in another set of events noticed how significant her feat was.
“She’s pretty much good at anything we put her in,” said junior thrower Maya Jackson, referring to Kellenberg. “It’s really impressive. It’s not just that she’s naturally good, she works hard. She’s one of the few people I see that has to stay late because of all the events she does. I think her work ethic is a good inspiration for the rest of the team… She doesn’t know how good she is.”
While Kellenberg does seem to downplay her own accomplishments, Jackson said that she too often feels critical about herself. “I feel like that pretty much every week. I don’t think as an athlete it’s okay to settle for some progress. You should always continue to try to be better.”
Junior runner Hannah Benoit Bucher, another team member from cross country, shares a similar mindset. “I’m definitely not where I want to be, yet,” said Benoit Bucher. “I trust our coaching and training. I have such encouraging teammates. As the season progresses, we will all progress and hit those marks at the right meet, which is conference [championships].”
When asked which team members had the best chance to compete in nationals, Benoit Bucher referred to Kellenberg, as well as sophomore thrower Starr Rodenhurst (recognized as a PacWest Conference Field Athlete of the Week in early March), junior pole vaulter Celine Lum, and the relay team.
While the team has ranked in the top seven in each of its meets this season, including three finishes in the top three, the most important meets are yet to come. Following the Bryan Clay Invitational at Azusa on Apr. 19-20, the PacWest Championships will be held in Fresno on Apr. 27-28, with the Oxy Last Chance Meet on May 12 and the NCAA Championships on May 24-26 to follow.
“I know that I have a lot of goals for this season, just because it’s my last season. I’m really hoping to make it to nationals,” said Hernandez. “It’s just crazy looking back at these four years. I really can’t imagine not running… It’s been so informative on my faith. I’m going to miss racing, and I’m going to miss so much of this team. It’s surreal… it makes me emotional.”