The forecast is calling for 70-degree days in Milwaukee this weekend, but the Marquette track and field team will be bringing the heat as they compete in the 2012 Outdoor Big East Conference Championship in Tampa, Fla. The bar has been set for the Golden Eagles after a ninth place finish at the 2012 Big East Indoor Championship.
Coming off a home meet against Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Illinois-Chicago and Northwestern, the team returns to South Florida, where it opened its outdoor campaign. Coach Bert Rogers is taking his biggest group of qualifiers to the conference championship.
Senior thrower Robert Bleem believes the larger crowd is going to help as one of the team’s strengths is voicing support for one another.
“Marquette definitely has a bigger voice than most teams. We cheer every teammate on and want them to achieve their best,” Bleem said. “Having a big crowd is going to get people amped up and personal bests could be in place.”
For some, like junior sprinter Kyle Winter, it will be a more tactical race as he will see what the competition is doing before he decides how fast he will go. At the 2012 Big East Indoor Championship, everyone started off slow which allowed Winter to kick at the very end and pick off the competition for the win.
If the other runners start off fast, Winter could be getting some help as he tries to reach a regional qualifying time. Winter ran a 48.30 in their last visit to South Florida. This week at practice the sprinters are focused on “revving the engine.”
“We’ve been doing speed all week. We’re not doing miles,” Winter said. “We’re keeping our bodies pretty healthy and just working on speed to rev the engine.”
Rogers sees big performances coming from Winter on the men’s side, where he could be joined by several seniors like sprinter Tyler O’Brien, distance runner Jack Hackett and thrower Jonathan Kusowski to make noise at the championship.
“We’ve got a number of guys in a number of different areas that I think can get us points,” Rogers said. “I’m pretty excited about where our guys stand, and I think we want to do like we did at the indoor championship.”
On the women’s side, the focus will be on individual performances as they finished last at the 2012 Big East Indoor Championship. Rogers believes the athletes will display some personal bests.
There will still be a few meets once the conference championship concludes. The goal of those meets is to serve as a last chance opportunity for those athletes to try and secure their spot in the top 48 of their respective event in order to participate in the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds in Austin, Tex.
With their careers starting to come to an end, Bleem foresees some great times being run by the senior.
“Everyone’s got a little fire in their eyes right before they’re done,” Bleem said. “We’re going to see great marks between Blake Johnson, Peter Bolgert, and Tyler O’Brien because they’re all wanting to go out with a bang and show off what they’ve achieved in their time here.”