As the snow begins to melt and the temperature goes up, the outdoor track and field season is right around the corner.
Coming off a successful outdoor season last year, returning talent on the men’s side is looking to repeat and improve on previous success. Three athletes in particular, junior jumper Jerry Williams, senior jumper Jordan Richards and sophomore thrower Logan Heil are trying to return to the pinnacle of their sport, Nationals.
For Richards and Heil, experiencing an event of that magnitude has opened their eyes to just how hard it is to get to that level.
“We both finished just off of being All-American’s, so we switched up our weightlifting routines this summer to challenge ourselves a little bit more and try to take that next step of becoming an All-American,” Richards said.
Williams has made a routine of going to Nationals as he has qualified in both of his first two years on campus. He said it is not just about being there anymore.
“I’m trying to get there and win it and be a National Champion, and I think I have made strides with my workouts and eating habits to be able to accomplish that,” Williams said.
Head coach Brett Witt said he believes that being around the best of the best can only enhance the level of success for his group if they are willing to put the work in.
“Being able to experience something like Nationals for the first time is very different from anything they’ve done at this level. You have security taking you to even go to the bathroom. It just has a completely different feel, and I have confidence those guys are going to lead by example with their work ethic, and have the rest of the team see well if this guy is willing to sacrifice this then I should too,” Witt said.
How these athletes approach the team aspect of track and field has changed with the experience of last spring.
“I really am going to try and lead by my work and results. I know personally I have to still do well to hopefully enhance the level of play for the rest of the team. One of my main goals is to hopefully be a big part in getting the team into the top three of the WIAC,” Heil said.
Richards said he is looking to switch up his style of leadership from years past.
“Last year I would be so worried about everybody else and what they’re doing on top of myself, so I think this year it will be better for everybody for me to just take a step back, worry about myself and have the whole team fall into place because they are working hard to be at the top of their game as well,” Richards said.
On top of these three returnees, Witt said he believes there are guys on the team who are ready to take that next step and join their teammates at Nationals in the spring.
“Sophomore Darin Ward is in a little different situation, he was with me at my old school and transferred here, but had qualified for Nationals as a freshman there so we are looking for him to duplicate that,” Witt said. “Junior Neil Pederson and sophomore Brent Reierson are a couple others we are looking to make that jump this year as they were close last year and as always we have some seniors who have made a significant jump to try to make it in their last year.”
Each of these players and their individual success contributes to the overall team score, something the whole program is hoping can excel just a bit more despite individual accolades.
“You know it would really be great to get the team into that top three and that’s something that we continue to make a strong point of trying to accomplish,” Heil said.