Outdoor track and field: how the season is going far


Courtesy of Jeannie Wilhoit

Senior Jacob Cofer runs the 10K at Friends University on April 1 as Coach Ryan Pitts looks on. Cofer finished in second place with a time of 32 minutes and 50 seconds.

The outdoor track season is in full swing after starting on March 19. They are in a very important stretch of the year, where every week in April they have a meet followed by the Conference championship on May 6 and 7. Both the men’s and women’s teams are looking to get to nationals after this stretch of meets.

Senior Maxx Bradley (left) and Junior Ben Lamparek (right) compete in the steeplechase at Friends University. (Courtesy of Jeannie Wilhoit)

“We are very pleased with the season so far,” Ryan Pitts, the coach for both teams, said. “We have eight national qualifiers and look to ideally get 20 national qualifiers by the end of the season.”

To be a national qualifier, the athletes on the team need to hit a specific time or distance to qualify. Outside of getting to 20 national qualifiers, Coach Pitts’ main goal is to win the Heart of America conference championship at the end of the year in Oskaloosa, Iowa. 

Pitts is expecting a lot of competition in the conference tournament as the conference is stacked and has a lot of talent. He also wants both teams to build confidence in their respective events to play at their highest abilities while, hopefully, staying healthy.

“We have seen some injuries this season,” Pitts said. “With how the schedule is, players need to be ready to step up when they are needed as the whole season is in April and the end is fast approaching.”

Player prep has been the focus for many athletes. Senior Ashley Griffen is preparing to be at her physical peak and be more consistent as the season goes on.

“[I’m] staying positive and hoping to compete at my fullest ability to reach my goal of going to Gulf Shores Alabama for Nationals,” Griffen said. “If I put the work in, God can take me there.”

Senior Mia Wilhoit gets ready to compete in the 4×800 meter relay at Friends University on April 1. (Courtesy of Jeannie Wilhoit)

Senior Zach Strawn is one of the vocal leaders on the team and gives advice to the younger athletes on the team for this stretch of meets. He explains that since the season is mostly in April, the team needs to take it one day at a time. The season may look short, but there is still a lot of time to improve and qualify.

“Being humble is important for the team to learn, you are not number one anymore like in high school,” said Strawn. “You have to come to terms with not being number one and work together as a team for success.”

Strawn plans to end his final season at Baker in Gulf Shores and is prepping himself by staying in good shape and sticking to healthy foods during the rest of the season. Even if Strawn does not qualify for nationals, he will still cheer and encourage his teammates from the sidelines to show his support.

Baker Track and Field has four more events before the conference championship on May 6 and 7, so the season still has some time. The teams need to stay confident and healthy for the chance to end their season on a high note at nationals and the conference championship. Their next event is the ESU Midwest Classic at Emporia State on April 16.