The men’s and women’s track teams will be spending their Spring Break in sunny southern California to train and compete in the Long Beach and Spring Break Invitationals, as well as have a little fun. Twenty-seven members of each squad will make the trip.
“This trip really has a dual purpose – but it is primarily a training trip to get the season off to a good start,” said women’s assistant coach Artie Smith ’96.
The trip will give both teams a jump start on the outdoor season, as several new events will be added to their weekly repertoire. Athletes specializing in these events have not had the opportunity to compete in them during the indoor season.
“It will be tough because we add in the events not contested indoors, but everyone is very eager to get going,” men’s head coach Nathan Taylor said.
The week will also feature competition with teams the Red does not generally see during the rest of the season. At the Spring Break Invitational at UC-Irvine, the Red expects to face some of the best track programs in the country – including Oregon, Michigan and Arkansas.
“In general there is pretty good competition at these meets,” Taylor said.
Both teams look forward to showcasing the men and women in the new outdoor events.
On the men’s side, senior Greg Simonds, sophomore Aaron Merril and junior Kolby Hoover will make their season debut in the 400-meter hurdles. Junior Brad Baird will compete in the steeplechase for the first time since last season, while freshman Jordan Banniga and sophomore Frank Fetteroff will throw the javelin. Banniga and Fetteroff have been training for this competitive debut since August.
On the women’s side, juniors Toni-Lynn Salucci and Robyn Ellerbrook will compete in the steeplechase. Freshman Maria Matos and sophomore Crystal Thomas will get to shine in their specialty event, the discus, and fellow thrower freshman Erin Folger will make her collegiate debut in the javelin. Junior Christina Cossel, who made tremendous strides in the 400 meters during the indoor season, will combine her speed with her hurdling technique in the 400 hurdles.
Both the men and women have fared well at the California invitationals in the past, and hope to continue this year.
“We have a very deep team, as deep a group as we have ever had,” Smith said. “We just expect [the girls] to work hard and appreciate the opportunity that we are giving them.”
Taylor has high hopes for his team as well, even though they are coming off of a very serious base training, so some of their performances may be somewhat subdued and less crisp than they will be later in the season.
“I am hoping to keep every kid on the team moving forward,” Taylor said. “I just want the kids to do well.”