With the exception of the occasional relay, track and field is mostly an individual sport. There are no timeouts to get advice from the coach, no trick plays can be drawn up and no, you certainly can’t send your biggest guys to pound your opponent to the ground. From the moment the gun is fired off to the second you cross the finish line or land on the mat, you are an individual.
This does not mean that you are alone. When you’re a part of the Appalachian State track and field team, you may be an individual but you will never be alone.
“It is a personal sport, but at the end of the day it’s a team sport,” sophomore Kaytlyn Gill, competitor in the 100m and the long jump, said after practice.
Gill, who had five top 5 placings and eight top 10s last season, considers it her duty to always cheer on the team, stay positive and continue to be a leader on and off the track. Personally, she said, it’s all about staying humble and keeping her confidence up to keep on going.
Head coach John Weaver echoed Gill, saying it is important for each individual to support and continue to challenge one another. This weekend is especially important as the Charlotte Open marks the midway point of the season and emphasizes the lack of time that is left until the Sun Belt Outdoor Championships May 13-15.
“Every single person on this team that is ambitious and expects to be on that plane needs to start thinking, ‘We’ve got to start getting this done,’ and we’ll see who they bring along with them,” Weaver said.
Junior Will Buckley, competitor in the 100m and 200m, is a one of kind when it comes to getting everyone on the same page no matter where they are at.
“I like to stay relaxed and keep everyone smiling,” Buckley said with a smile as he finished up practice. “I don’t want to see anyone tensed up. It’s about going out and having fun; if you go out and have fun you can’t complain at the end of the day no matter the results.”
When it comes to results, these Mountaineers are no stranger to the top 10. App was split in two April 1-2 as a group traveled down the mountain to High Point while another took a trip down to Florida. Yet, the abundance of furniture or abnormally high temperatures did not phase the Apps as both the men and women did their best to secure multiple top 10 spots in both area codes. The women concluded the weekend with a total of seven top 10 spots as did the men along with four others who followed closely behind.
Now, after having nearly two weeks off, the Black and Gold look to be fresher and better than ever when they hit the track in Charlotte.
“We need everybody to feel like they are starting to move forward and get their outdoor legs out from under them,” Weaver said. “This will be a good weekend for us to find out who is really serious about what’s going on.”
Both Gill and Buckley agreed that each and every individual should be ready to go this weekend.
“I look at this team and see nothing but potential,” Buckley said. “We’ll be ready to go.”
Key athletes from the women’s side who look to capitalize on a fresh start are Tristin Van Ord, distance runner, Darlene Girardeau, sprinter and long jump competitor and Brianna Tate, thrower. Girardeau is looking to only improve after last season’s outstanding performance with 17 top 5 finishes and 24 top 10.
From the men, Stanley Broaden, hurdler, Ryan Hastings, long sprinter, and Will Buckley, sprinter, are all ready to get their legs moving this weekend. Broaden, one of the few graduate student athletes on the team, had a phenomenal last season with 13 top 5 finishes, 14 top 10 and 15 top 15.
Appalachian State will travel to Charlotte on April 15-16 for the Charlotte Open.