The Geneseo track and field season has officially begun after a small group of athletes traveled to SUNY Brockport to compete in an early season invitational on Friday Dec. 1 and Saturday Dec. 2.
“Brockport went really well,” head coach Chris Popovici said. “It was an opportunity for our athletes to do specialized events or put in an extra event that they wouldn’t be able to do in one meet.”
Many of the athletes on the team are capable of competing in multiple events, but due to time constraints at meets, they cannot participate in all of them in one meet.
“We don’t typically go to this Brockport Invitational, but it was a way for us to set a benchmark and we can go from there,” junior multi-event athlete Shayna Held said.
Held took second place in the heptathlon with an impressive 3,192 points.
The invitational was an opportunity to show where the team is at the beginning of the season, so they can learn how best to prepare for later meets, and eventually SUNYACs and nationals.
This time in the semester also acts as a transitional phase, since most of the cross country athletes also participate in the track and field program.
“Because their season just ended, most of them won’t be competing for another month or so,” Popovici said. “They are taking some time to recover.”
Popovici and assistant coach for track Dan Moore—who also serves as head coach of the cross country team—work closely together to ensure a seamless transition from the cross country season to the track season. These athletes stick to many of the same training regimes in terms of day-to-day activities, yet there is a shift in thinking about being scored on an individual basis.
“Mostly they’re just getting ready to try to qualify for the big meets later in the season,” Popovici said.
Within the track and field program, there are seven coaches, all of whom are Geneseo alumni. The seven disciplines of track and field each have a separate coach, which is efficient for athletes to hone their abilities within these areas.
Because of the nature of this sport, there’s a lot happening at any given moment. With a team of 130 athletes, organization is necessary for a competitive and successful program.
“Not every individual will see every other person on a daily basis,” Popovici said.
One particular challenge that the teams face is winter break, when athletes often do not have access to the same training equipment that they do in Geneseo. Even though the athletes return to campus about a week before the spring semester begins, they are home for three weeks without the same training.
Therefore, the goal is for the athletes to minimize any progress lost.
“We can’t expect them to come back in better shape,” Popovici said. “But we do hope that they come back as close to the shape they left in as possible.”
The entirety of the men and women’s teams will compete at Houghton College on Friday Dec. 8. This will be the first opportunity of the season for all of the athletes to be together.
“For such a large team, it doesn’t feel [so big],” Held said. “Our close-knit structure is something we are all proud of.”
“Many of our athletes are chomping at the bit to get out there,” Popovici said. “They want to show what they can do and how much fitter they are from last year, and the freshmen want to prove themselves.”u