The Marquette track and field team will wake up in the city that never sleeps tomorrow to compete at the Big East Indoor Championships this weekend. The team’s best performances should be on display at the New Balance Track & Field Center at the Armory.
At the 2011 conference meet in Akron, Ohio, the men’s team finished in 12th place and the women placed 14th. With the team achieving a regional ranking for the first time in years, coach Bert Rogers has adjusted his approach to this year’s meet by focusing on both placing and setting personal bests.
“We’ve got a pretty strong senior group of guys that can score some points,” Rogers said. “We could and should stack up. Going into the meet, I’m feeling that on the men’s side we should have one of our best performances.”
Senior Tyler O’Brien and junior Kyle Winter comprise the core of the sprinting squad. Winter should be looking fully rested and rejuvenated after resting his legs last weekend by not running at the Hoosier Hills Invitational.
O’Brien ran last weekend to get a feel for the banked track at the Armory, and Rogers views him as a favorite to stand on the podium this weekend. O’Brien said not much has changed for him since the beginning of the season.
“I’ve just tried to stay more relaxed while I’m running. While working on my start, I think I progressed a lot and hope it all comes together this weekend,” O’Brien said.
After the trip to Bloomington, Rogers expects O’Brien’s confidence level to be high.
“This past weekend in Indiana, we did a couple of nice things. (O’Brien) is mentally prepped, ready and excited,” Rogers said.
As a freshman, Winter made a name for himself finishing eighth in the 500-meter dash by almost standing on that podium at the Armory. Since then, he’s moved on to longer sprints but the expectations are the same.
On the field events side, sophomore Carlye Schuh started off the season by making noise and qualifying for the Big East Championship at the first meet of the indoor season.
Schuh ranks among the top of Marquette’s all-time list currently at fourth in both the long jump and triple jump and says she will be gunning to break her personal bests.
Schuh is no stranger to the pressure of a large crowd after competing as a freshman in the conference championship. New York is just another environment that she will embrace.
“I definitely freaked out a little bit when I jumped last year, so hopefully my nerves are subdued this time in New York,” said Schuh. “I’m really excited to go. You just have to stay calm and we’ve been doing that all season so there isn’t much to worry about.”
A slight feeling of familiarity could come from seeing a team like Notre Dame at the Armory, but for the most part, Marquette has not interacted with too many of the Big East teams competing like Syracuse or Georgetown.
“It’s mostly based on what we have seen from results. You can get a lot online. You can watch videos of races there. You get a feel of what some people are doing,” Rogers said. “We mostly focus on our own race plan and try to not worry too much about what other people do.”
Experienced runners like Winter and O’Brien know the people that they will race against from previous meets. They have a feel as to what their competition is going to do, and will try to use that to their advantage. In a city that has over eight million people, it’s always nice to know somebody.