Track & Field Opens At Boston University
ALBANY, N.Y. – For the second consecutive season, the University at Albany track & field program will participate in a full early season meet when they return to the Boston University Season Opener. Where last year the Great Danes just brought a handful of competitors to the meet, this year they are bringing a larger segment of the team.
“When we went last year we saw that it was an opportunity for people who were in great shape to get qualifying performances out of the way early,” said Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Roberto Vives. “The level of competition is real good for an early season meet. It’s an easy trip, and it’s a couple weeks before finals. We went with a smaller group last year but we decided to put it on the schedule this year for more of the team. I think it’s a good start to the season, the kids see where they are, and we can move forward from there.”
Except for the cross country runners, who already have a full season’s worth of competition under their belts, most of the track & field roster hasn’t competed since May. Additionally, they have been in preseason training mode since they returned to campus in August.
“The kids are super excited to compete,” said Vives. “I think it’s a good thing for them to see where they are. And after the meet we want them to protect their fitness. Sometimes people have great performances, and the danger is for them to return after break a shadow of what they were. I think we have to keep harping on the great start but still working on fitness.”
Before last year, the Great Danes usually waited until the first meet in January to attend a proper meet. They would hold their usual intra-squad scrimmage in early December as a test effort for the track & field competitors who haven’t competed for months, but they would not compete in a live competition before the semester break. That changed last year with the addition of the BU Season Opener to the schedule, but the new schedule format brought with it some unintended challenges.
“We started real slowly last season,” said Vives. “After the intersession, the performances at the Great Dane Classic and up in Middlebury weren’t that great. I don’t think we started coming around until February when we went to Boston. We feel that we did a great conditioning, and we hope to have a better start to the season when we come back.”
To avoid repeating the slow start from last season, the coaching staff added a new meet to the schedule this year that will hopefully serve to keep the team sharp through the long winter break.
“The meet at the Armory this year is a scoring meet, and we didn’t have a scoring meet last year that we focused on as a team until indoor championships” said Vives. “Only 12 schools were invited. When the meet arrives in late January, we don’t want to still be building up to it. We’ll see teams like Oregon, UCLA, UConn, Villanova, Georgetown, Duke, and South Carolina. I think we can be top three even among those schools. It’s a motivator to keep them honest through the break.”
As with any year, the team has to account for losses to graduation. The team this year has been training since August and just had a taste of real competition early this week before they will face off against opponents from other schools on Saturday.
“Looking at the results from our scrimmage the other day, especially among the throwers, there were a lot of personal and facility bests,” said Vives”. “I think we got off to a pretty good start. People are fairly fit. Looking at my group in particular, last year we did a lot of quality work early, and I think some of our kids got into injuries midseason indoors or after indoors. This year we’re trying to pace them so by the end of outdoor they’re really ready to go.
“I hope to see a good start to the season,” Vives continued. “It’s early, but I’d like to see some IC4A and ECAC qualifiers right off the bat because that takes a lot of pressure off. If they get it done now the rest of the season can be devoted to developing for championships.”