This is the second of a three part series previewing the 2012-13 season for the Marquette track and field team. Next Tuesday: Sprinters
With cross-country season having come to an end, members of the Marquette distance squad will adjust to the change of scenery from hilly courses to the flat track. Coach Mike Nelson transitions from the cross-country coach to an assistant track coach, but he is still looking forward to the fast times ahead in the 2012-13 indoor season.
“I see it as a building block process,” Nelson said. “As you get better in track, you get better in cross-country. As you get better in cross-country, you get better in track. My training doesn’t change all that much as we go from one to the next.”
The majority of the cross-country team spent time resting prior to fall break, and it is now getting into light training. Upon returning to Marquette for classes, the training intensity will gradually be built back up.
Most of the runners who participated in cross-country meets during championship season will not be competing in the team’s first meet. Some runners who did not compete at the Big East Championship or the Great Lakes Regional have had extra time to prepare for the indoor season and will be ready to race.
Redshirt sophomore Spencer Agnew was plagued by a foot injury that sidelined him for the majority of the summer, and he eased his way back into form during cross-country. After red-shirting his sophomore year, he is ready to be back on the track representing Marquette.
“I’ve grown a lot as an athlete with a lot more training under my belt,” Agnew said. “I want to qualify for (the 2013 Big East Indoor Conference Championship) and, hopefully, mix it up with people in the conference to see how I can do. Definitely run some personal bests.”
Agnew holds the freshman 3,000-meter record and will be racing in distances from the mile to the 5,000-meter.
Right with Agnew will be junior Evan Ross, who has found more success on the track due to his speed on a flatter surface.
“Evan has always thrown it down on the track,” senior Connor Callahan said. “He’s so talented that he can get into really good racing shape really quickly.”
Senior Patrick Maag suffered an ankle sprain at the Big East Cross-Country Championship, but he rebounded and raced at the Great Lakes Regional. He missed time earlier in the cross-country season, which leads the coaches to believe there is still mileage in the tank for him to start his indoor season earlier than most others.
After a cross-country season with several freshmen in the top seven on the men’s and women’s sides, the early meets could be used to experiment with distances for the less experienced runners.
“They’ve set themselves up for a good track season,” Nelson said. ”With freshmen, you never know. Some of them have never really done indoor track, because indoor track in the Midwest is not run as much as it is on the East Coast.”
It will be tough for freshmen to replace last year’s graduates in Blake Johnson and Olivia Johnson, but on the men’s side, upperclassmen like Callahan will run longer distances like 3,000 and 5,000 meters indoor.
One of the bigger goals for Callahan is to run sub-14:30 for the 5,000-meters. His hard training from the summer was a slight burden at the end of the season, but he is ready to have his work pay off on the track.
“I definitely think I was too fit too early,” Callahan said. “At the same time, I hope that will set me up for a good track season.”
On the women’s side, the contributors are expected to come from all different classes. The freshmen, led by Molly Hanson, hope their accomplishments from the cross-country season carry over into the next season.
Down the road, sights could be set on some records like that of Nelson’s wife, Cassie Nelson, who set the freshman mile record (4:50.82) and went on to set the 1,000-meter record at 2:51:10. Several top 10 Marquette performances could also be seen.
Sophomore Elisia Meyle battled through illness during cross-country season and will start her season early at the Blue and Gold Invite. She was injured toward the end of last outdoor season. If she can hold up after all the running in the fall, she could be ready for some strong showings this season.
The distance squad is looking capable of scoring several points for Marquette at the Big East Championship, but it is months away from that point and will take it one meet at a time.