Competing at home during the SUNY G Open on April 18 and 19, the outdoor track team finished strong across the board in sprints, distance running, hurdles and jumps. One of the sweetest victories of the meet, however, was for the throwing squad. Junior Elyssa Slawinski took first place in the hammer throw with a distance of 44.56 meters. She managed it despite being without a throwing coach for her entire college career.
“Obviously it’s upsetting because I feel that I’m doing really well, but I could be doing so much better if I had a coach, so that’s a little frustrating,” Slawinski said.
The previous coach left before she had even arrived at Geneseo, and the team has not been able to find a replacement for a number of reasons, including the specialization necessary in throws and the hiring budget, according to head coach Dave Prevosti.
Slawinski added that instead of drawing motivation from a coach, she draws it from her teammates, her own hard work and, at this meet in particular, the track and field alumni.
The SUNY G Open was the team’s alumni meet, and a group of recent graduates returned to cheer on their younger teammates.
“They care so much about the program, the graduates,” Prevosti said. “They had a throws coach and now not having one, Elyssa [Slawinski] has kind of been an athlete/coach, and she’s still doing great things.”
While Slawinski’s secret is to “stay loose and have fun” during meets, the throwing squad spends its practices doing intensive training. Members build strength in the weight room four days per week and develop throwing technique with precision and speed drills.
Slawinski competes in three of the four throws events – shot put, hammer throw and discus. Each requires different form, skills and areas of body strength as well as intense concentration.
Slawinski’s performance has earned her a spot at the ECAC championships, a career goal. She said gaining a chance to compete at the regional meet has improved the tone of her entire season.
“I’m basically riding off the high from knowing that I’m going to go [to ECACs] finally. Now I just have confidence and that’s going to help me going forward,” Slawinski said. “I just want to stay happy and confident because I know that I can do it now.”
The outdoor track team will send some athletes to compete at Penn Relays in Philadelphia on Thursday April 24, followed by University of Rochester’s Spring Invitational on Saturday April 26.