Track and Field team wins championship


File Photo/The Lion's Roar

The indoor track and field team made it to the Southland Conference Tournament for the First time since 2014. However, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, Southland sporting events have been cancelled through March 30.

Led by head coach Corey Mistretta, the university men’s indoor track team clinched a spot at the top of the Southland Conference. The team had not accomplished this goal since 2014.

With the team placing second in the conference last year, Mistretta explained how incoming recruits and redshirt runners made this championship run much better.

“After finishing second at the indoor championships last year and giving a redshirt season outdoors to a few of our top runners, we were looking at having a stronger outdoor season this year,” stated Mistretta. “However, after some quality signings in the recruiting class and a very good strong fall training period, we felt like the team would have a chance to contend for another trophy this year, indoor as well.”

Mistretta mentioned how the mindset was the same for all of the players he took to the championship.

“On a team with 30 plus athletes, there are always going to be a variety of mindsets,” mentioned Mistretta. “That being said, we had a strong and focused mindset on the group of athletes we took to the championship meet. They were extremely motivated and focused on one goal: winning a ring.”

Different teams will handle adversity in different ways. Mistretta explained how the track team’s victory in the distance relay medley boosted the team’s spirit.

“There was a period of time during the first day of the championships where things were looking very bleak,” said Mistretta. “Then, our DMR (distance medley relay) won the conference title while breaking a school record on the last event of day one. We were able to use the energy from this race to get everyone back focused on our goal. They responded extremely well on day two.”

The outdoor season was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic since the Southland Conference cancelled all remaining spring sporting events. The team was not able to pursue their goal of being outdoor champions as well.

“With the outdoor season cancelled, we are just waiting for further details from the NCAA and Southland Conference about how we are going to be able to proceed going forward,” commented Mistretta. “We are committed to bringing everyone back for another run at the outdoor championship next year.”

With all university sports cancelled, the team is not allowed to hold practices at this time.

“We are not allowed to practice at this time until March 30,” stated Mistretta. “After this date, the Conference will let us know what we are allowed to do. Coach Artigues is working very hard for us to make sure we can all get back to what we love doing.”

Although the decision to postpone all sports was not easy to accept, Mistretta agrees with the choice because it keeps him and all his athletes safer from the risk of contracting the virus.

“While it is a heartbreaking decision to cancel our seasons, I believe it is definitely in the best interest for the whole of society,” said Mistretta. “While the percentages of people affected remain extremely low, I do not believe anyone wants to lessen the value of a single human life. We will all be stronger from the adversity we are facing at this time.”

Mistretta expressed his concern for all his students, their families and the university as a whole while everyone is processing the changes in life and school.

“First, I am extremely concerned for the health and safety of each of my athletes and their families–that is real life stuff,” said Mistretta. “Time will tell how this affects the Southeastern community as a whole, not just the track & field team. With regard to track, I am extremely concerned about the amount of time they are going to miss and how it is going to affect the physical and mental condition they were in coming off of a championship season and heading into another one where we were extremely confident.”

With changes to daily life becoming more frequent, Mistretta explained how his team plans on dealing with the pandemic.

“At this time, the situation in our country and globally is extremely fluid,” commented Mistretta. “We have to be prepared for changes to happen often and deal with each new change in the most positive way possible. Our plans remain the same, be the best student, athlete and community steward we can be at all times.”