This is the first of a three part series previewing the 2012-13 season for the Marquette University track and field team. Thursday: Distance Runners
Marquette track and field coach Bert Rogers is entering his fifth season with the Golden Eagles. Since September, he has helped oversee the progress and development of all the athletes not running cross-country. Every year is a transition year with seniors departing and freshmen coming in, but Rogers feels confident about this year’s squad.
The first meet for the throwers will be at the Badger Classic in Madison on Jan. 12. Last year, several athletes hit the Big East qualifying mark in their first meet. This year could have more of the same with many returning athletes.
Sophomore Will Koeck is looking to continue his successes after his first year earned him the Outstanding Freshman honors for the men’s team. He set a freshman record in the weight throw and put his name among the all-time Marquette leaders.
His indoor season came to an end last year after he fouled at the Big East Championship. His sights are set on getting back to that stage and possibly scoring for Marquette.
“We’re just trying to improve off last year,” Koeck said. “Hopefully we can start off where we left off and go from there.”
Also making his name in the Marquette record books is redshirt sophomore Bret Hardin, who posted the fifth best weight throw of 17.61-meters at the Milwaukee Dual meet in January. He finished 14th overall at the Big East Indoor Championship with a throw of 15.80-meters.
There are no freshmen on the throwing squad this year, but there will be experience on the team with seniors Patrick Stuart and David Carbajal on the team. Carbajal has had health issues in the past, but should be ready by the team’s trip to Madison, where he finished sixth last year with a 15.95-meter weight throw.
Just as competitive as Koeck and Hardin will be for the men, the women’s side has its own set of strong throwers.
Sophomore Samantha Kennedy is coming off a summer where she competed at the Canadian Olympic Trials for a spot on the roster headed to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Before arriving at the National Championships, Kennedy won a gold medal at the Canadian Junior Track and Field Championships in Winnipeg. She finished 11th in the women’s hammer throw at the Trials.
Although she has been battling some minor injuries in the fall, the winter focus will mainly be on the weight throw for indoor season.
Junior Kirsten Gaffney is poised for a strong season after placing eighth at the Big East Championship in 2012. Her best throw in the shot put came as a freshman, when she tossed the seventh best school shot put throw. Right with her is Kathryn Koeck, who finished with a personal best of 15.77-meters at the Big East Championship for 16th place.
At the 2011 Marquette Track and Field awards banquet, it was Kennedy who took to the stage and flexed her muscles. Junior long jumper Carlye Schuh was the one walking away with the hardware as the female Most Valuable Performer award.
Rogers has been able to rely on Schuh from the start of her career at Marquette, when she made the school’s top 10 lists in races from 60-meters to 200-meters, along with the long and triple jump.
In practice, she has been jumping into the high 18-foot range on short approach long jumps. Health will be the only concern for her with many weeks of competition ahead.
“(Carlye) has been doing some stuff that we haven’t seen anybody do in practice,” Rogers said. “As long as she stays healthy, she’s going to be dynamite.”
Schuh splits time practicing as a sprinter and jumper. With less than two weeks to go until her first meet of the year, she saw fall break as a nice opportunity to relax from the practices that started in early September.
One of her goals is to break the six-meter mark in the long-jump, which would give her the school record.
“At the end of (outdoors), I was ready to be done. It ended with a lot of frustration especially with my shins,” Schuh said. “Definitely want to get back and the fact that I’m feeling well right now is a huge thing.”
Schuh is not alone in making the Marquette record books for jumping. Cheldon Brown enters his senior year looking to improve on his 6-foot-8.75 inch mark in the high jump, the third best in Marquette history. He continues to train with junior Michael Saindon, who’s personal best of 6-feet-7 inches is just under two inches behind Brown.
Brown and Saindon hit Big East qualifying marks at the Blue and Gold Invitational in 2011 to start their indoor season, so doing the same in 2012 should not be much of a surprise.