This weekend the Mean Green track and field teams will be competing in the Conference USA Indoor Championships meet in Birmingham, Alabama from Friday through Sunday. The team will be competing against ten other schools for the women’s teams and thirteen teams for the men’s. If the team performs well at this meet, they will be moving on to participate in the NCAA Indoor Championships meet in March.
“You can’t walk into a competition or a state championship and not be ready to compete at a high level,” head coach Carl Sheffield said. “There’s gonna be hundreds of seconds that separate people from qualifying, scoring points. It’s gonna be centimeters from advancing into the next rounds.”
The various track and field coaches have been collaborating to discover what exactly the team can improve upon and understanding the athletes’ individual needs, such as enforcing a tighter sleep schedule and introducing the method of mindfulness, while also encouraging teamwork and competition throughout practices and meets.
“I’m mostly trying to fix my race strategy and my mindset before I race,” freshman sprinter Liah Collins said. “Some of the things that are in my way are because I’m a freshman. I’m intimidated by the upperclassmen and I’m in a bigger environment where I’m on the same level, if not higher than I am being able to compete with them.”
Last year at this point in the spring season, many of the athletes participating in the meets building up to C-USA were less experienced because of the plethora of younger athletes on the team. This year, those who were once newcomers have become adjusted to the intensity they face in these competitions.
“I think we have a much better team [this year],” Sheffield said. “In Conference USA, it’s such a competitive meet, it [took] a while to get used to that level of competition. I think we are much better prepared here. I think that maturity level is going to help us out a lot more.”
The Mean Green have been gathering a handful of personal bests every week, a reflection of their tweaking strength and conditioning workouts personalized by their coaches, despite having to adjust to injuries carried out in the fall pre-season by several women’s athletes.
“It’s been a rollercoaster for me,” junior thrower Jaleisa Shaffer said. “I started off the year pretty rough. I hurt my elbow and my arm before the indoor championship and it’s been hurting so that’s why it’s been pretty hard. We’re finally at a good point for me to feel good. Everything is finally coming together to get some good throws for this weekend. I’m pretty excited.”