Track and field team looking for fresh start with newcomers

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Junior hurdler Breanne Bias practices during the offseason. She is one of the experienced players in the track and field roster. Nikisun Shrestha/The Lion’s Roar

The Lions track and field program has a new roster because of the influx of newcomers in the team. Head Coach Corey Mistretta looks at this as an opportunity to continue to form a cultural change in the program.

“We’re super excited,” said Mistretta. “Before coach Brady left midway through the year last year, we made a commitment to kinda change the things around the program and bring a bunch of new people in. Now we’re seeing that happen with 42 new faces this year on the men and women side.” 

Mistretta found the team has responded to the change positively.

“What we’ve noticed is that the group has really come together as a team,” said Mistretta. “We have one mission, and we’re going in one direction. And everybody seems to be on board with that and it is really encouraging.” 

Some of the incoming athletes are international students as well. They described their feelings about being a part of the program.

“I feel it is an honor for me to be a part of such a determined and hardworking team,” said sprinter Angel Collie, a freshman psychology major. “Considering that the fact that I am from the Bahamas, I am happy to be exposed to new conditions and persons from different places with different cultural backgrounds. I also feel that the rigorous workout schedule will continue to better me as an upcoming athlete.”

Mid-distance runner Milica Ozegovic also expressed her delight in being a part of the track and field team.

“Being an international student who came from a very small country like Bosnia and Herzegovina, to be part of American College and Division I team is a great pleasure and privilege,” said Ozegovic.

Senior sprinter Cliff Resias described how the team looks going into the 2018 season with the new faces.

“Our team’s looking great and strong,” said Resias. “I’m really looking forward for next season to start to see what they are about to do, but as of offseason, I mean, everybody looks good, healthy and strong. I’m really interested to see what will happen next season.”

Junior hurdler Breanne Bias gave her thoughts on the composition of the team. 

“I think that it’s a lot of new faces,” said Bias. “We have a very diverse team this year, which is great. A lot of new personalities, which is also great for the team. Being that the team is so young, it’ll be great just to rebuild on our program.” 

Mistretta believes that this team can look at the upcoming season with a fresh perspective and team ethic.

“I think something that was missing was the whole team concept of one team with one mission,” said Mistretta. “One of the things that we kinda get lost here in Southeastern is we have some elite athletes on our team, guys that have competed at the highest level. When you have athletes like that, you wind up having to take such athletes to different competitions, you have to train them a little differently, so the team becomes somewhat fractured when you do that. We wanted to kinda bring higher level kids so we can train together and bring that team dynamic back to it.”

“Currently in the offseason, the team is looking to practice hard for the spring season,” said Collie. “My plans for the off season is to just work hard in every practice session and never give up when I feel like the workout is becoming too much. Also, keep the mentality that the practice sessions are going to make competition easier for me and remember that good results come from how I perform in practice.”

As a newcomer, Collie described her goals for her first season in spring.

“My expectations for the spring season are really just to go out to the track meets and have fun but at the same time perform well for my school and myself,” said Collie. “I feel like it’s going to be a little different as I’m transitioning from high school track and field to a NCAA Division 1 track and field school, but I don’t feel like that’s going to detour me from the goals I’ve set for myself. Also, I expect to lower my times in both the 200m and 400m.