Track and Field looks to grow

Mallory Montgomery, a junior Secondary Mathematics Education major and Mississippi College’s only steeple-chase track athlete, says when it comes to her sport she approaches it with a simple attitude, “I’m just here to run.”

MC’s track team had a great first home meet with really nice weather, and lots of the athletes’ friends and family were in attendance. However, the overall feeling from the track athletes is that no one really knows much about their sport.

IMG_4827
Junior Mallory Montgomery passes through the water jump during the steeplechase at the Mississippi College Season Opener on Mar. 1, 2014.

Montgomery said, “When people do show up, they always say how exciting it is despite being an all-day affair.  It is where I find most of my life lessons from.  Aspects of running are indicative of other aspects in my life. It makes me not only stronger as an athlete, but a stronger person.  Everybody rushes off to watch the sprints, because they think that is exciting. Distance running is exciting too. You just have to know what to look for.”

Senior Computing and information systems major, Fernando Paz, has been leading the guys’ distance team this year. He said, “This year we have a young team and these guys have really achieved big things already. Keep your eyes peeled!”

When talking about his recent PR, Paz says, “I have been able to really reap the benefits of my hard work this season and I am really grateful for that.”

Senior Fernando Paz races in the 3000 meter steeplechase at the Mississippi College Season Opener on Mar. 1, 2014
Senior Fernando Paz races in the 3000 meter steeplechase at the Mississippi College Season Opener on Mar. 1, 2014

According to a source, there has been some discussion about scholarships for the student-athletes. A plan is in place to give some scholarship to the immediate athletes as long as they meet certain criteria and merit.

Soup (Ryan Campbell), a Biology major, runs the mile and 1500 and has hopes for the 5000. Coming out of high school, Campbell was the number one miler in Mississippi.  He has been to the Junior Olympics. His coach back home even coaches a 4×100 Olympics silver medalist.

Campbell said, “If you want to be competitive, you have got to run every day. There is no off season. You have to constantly be on your game.” The distance team runs for about an hour to an hour and a half every day. Campbell says, “I just want to be competitive and run the way I know I can.”

Campbell is passionate about the merits of running versus other sports.

“WE ARE A SPORT. I have played football, baseball, and soccer competitively, but to me the most mentally stressful one is running. If you are mentally not strong, you are not going to finish a race especially for cross-country and the 800. We do not get breaks. It is all on you.

“No one is going to run the race for you. You can run in a pack, but you still have to run your own race. If you have a bad race it’s not your team’s fault, it’s yours.”

Keegan Kurpakus, an Engineering Physics major and distance runner, 800M, explains his running mantra, “I go with the flow I’m chill. When I am racing, I am in the zone. It feels like time literally slows down.” Concerning the move to DII, Kurpakus is slightly apprehensive.

“As a walk-on, my time for my event is not fantastic. If I drop it a little bit, I am competitive. Going into DII, facing more people, I might have a chance.”

Keegan and Campbell report that the people that do show up to their meets are very supportive ex-runners. At practice the support is all from the team. “Your teammates are the main support because they are all doing it with you, but nothing pumps you up more than seeing people cheering for the home team.”

Right now the track team is in good shape. However, it is slightly daunting going into this season with only 17 athletes total guys and girls. With the upgrade to DII, track just like all of the other sports has been able to seriously recruit athletes and offer them scholarship for signing. As of March, track and field has roughly 50 potential athletes who want to sign on for next year. Seven athletes have committed as of now.

– Bethany Kuhn, Reporter

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