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Marquette Track and Field: Team starts the season with an emphasis on endurance

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The Marquette track and field teams hope expanded off-season workouts lead to a successful 2011-’12 campaign, especially in the season opener this weekend at the Blue & Gold Invitational at Notre Dame, Ind.

The fall has been difficult for the athletes, as the teams have worked on increasing their endurance and stamina, junior distance runner Kyle Winter said.

Winter – who ran the fifth fastest 800-meter race in school history at last season’s Meyo Invitational –looks to build on that success this weekend.

He said he aims for a time between 2 minutes, 28 seconds and 2:30 in the 1000-meter race, a new event for him, which would qualify him for the Big East Championships.

Winter is confident that increased endurance workouts will help him achieve his goal, even with the increased distance.

“This year we’ve done a lot more endurance, like running miles, more threshold training, and just heavier stuff than we’ve done the last two years,” he said.

Winter believes this training has allowed him to transition from 500-meter race to 1000-meter. Threshold training forces athletes to run their hardest, fastest pace for a specific amount of time, as opposed to typical tempo running.

Fifth year senior sprinter Tyler O’Brien felt this shift in training was positive.

“The fall has been good,” he said. “We’ve had rigorous workouts … but they also incorporated some speed work, which was good. It was good to get in some of (both) during the off-season.”

Both runners are excited to return to the track after months of in-house training.

“It’s a good indicator to see where you are at in your events,” O’Brien said. “Hopefully we can lay down some Big East marks so we don’t have to worry about it later in the year.”

Although the meet means little in their grand goals for the season, Winter thought simply racing other schools is important in instilling a competitive drive into everyone.

“(This weekend) is just about getting out there and seeing how we’ve progressed from August until now,” he said. “We want to see how we measure up. It’s not about dominating. We’re going out there to prove to ourselves that we’re getting better.”

Fifth year coach Bert Rogers said he views this weekend as a “time trial,” and said many athletes will not compete.

However, Rogers was direct in stating a goal for the women’s team.

“Last year, on the women’s side we were very young. This year we want to see them start off the year at a quicker pace,” Rogers said.

One of the pieces for this “quicker pace,” sophomore sprinter and jumper Carlye Schuh, said the team is prepared to answer the call.

“We’ve spent a lot of time in the weight room with long and hard workouts,” she said. “I think after working so hard in the fall, we’re ready to just get out there and compete.”

Last season, Schuh set a school freshman record at the Blue & Gold Invitational with a long jump of 18 feet, 6.04 inches, which she would later top. But according to her, these weekends are not about actual times, but competing and having fun.

“You don’t want to put a lot of pressure on yourself in the first meet. Just go out there and have fun with it,” Schuh said.

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