Jake Kildoo, Staff Writer
As the winter begins to set in and the dark South Bend permacloud brings snow and sleet instead of just rain, there is a small fraction of the student body that will surprisingly become more active. This miniscule fraction is comprised mostly of the Irish indoor track and field team. Spanning from December through mid-March, the indoor track and field season gives athletes their shot to compete in all the events that the snow and cold render difficult or impossible to attempt outdoors.
Track and field is perhaps the least well-understood sport on campus, as it is so multifaceted. Most tend to assume that track basically means running. But there are plenty of other interesting and unique events, whose athletes all mesh together into one big track and field squad. When it comes down to it at scored meets such as conference meets, athletes in all events contribute to the same cause: scoring points.
Coming into this indoor season, the ladies team is fresh off of a double victory in conference last year, winning both the indoor and the outdoor Big East titles. The men came up just short in both meets, finishing as runners up to the University of Connecticut. This year, however, the Irish have left the Big East Conference, and will be competing in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) with arguably stiffer competition. Under this change, the Irish hope to continue competing well as a team and make their mark on the ACC and the rest of the NCAA this winter.
The Roverinterviewed two Irish track and field athletes about the upcoming season and their personal goals for it, beginning with senior thrower Emily Morris.
Irish Rover: Which event(s) do you do and which are your favorites?
Morris: I throw the shot put and the weight throw. Shot put is definitely my favorite. I’ve been throwing it for about 10 years now and I really enjoying throwing it. I just started throwing weight at the beginning of my freshman year and it’s definitely more difficult to get the hang of.
What are your goals for this coming season?
For indoor season, my goal is definitely to throw 16 meters in the shot put and to do well at ACC.
How will the move to the ACC affect you and the other throwers?
It will definitely be a change. We had gotten to know our competition pretty well and it will be interesting to throw against a new group of throwers. It will be cool to travel to new places to compete and have the opportunity to compete in such a competitive track conference.
What is a standard week of training like for you?
For the throwers, a standard week of training includes lifting four days a week for about 1.5 to two hours each, and practicing every day Sunday-Friday. Practicing usually entails taking a lot of throws and doing drills to work on hitting the correct positions of the throw.
Do you like indoor or outdoor track better?
I enjoy outdoor track better. Something about outdoor track is a little bit more exciting. We get to travel to fun places like Texas and California, and the weather plays more of a factor in competition, making it a little less predictable and more exciting. I always enjoy indoor season, but towards the end I can’t wait to get outside and start throwing the metal shots again.
The Rover also had the opportunity to talk to junior jumper Keith Mesidor.
What are your primary events and which do you like the most?
Mesidor: I am primarily a long jumper, but I run the 60, 100 (outdoors), and 200. My favorite event would be the long jump. I enjoy my running events, but there is nothing like being a jumper, in my opinion.
What sorts of goals do you have for both yourself and the team this season?
I want to be a consistent 25 feet long jumper this year. Most importantly, however, I want to jump 26/27 feet, get the indoor/outdoor school record, and get the Haitian National Long Jump Record. In terms of the team, I want us to win the ACC both indoor and outdoor. I think that would stamp our mark in the ACC.
Will the ACC be easier or tougher in jumps than the Big East was last year?
The ACC is definitely much tougher than the Big East in long jump. According to Coach Garnham, if we moved to the ACC last year, I would have finished in the same places that I finished. With so many kids jumping 25 and 26 feet, it will be more difficult to win the event, but I’m up for the challenge.
What is your event? What is your relationship with your coach like?
Long is pretty simple actually. Depending on the part of the season, I usually have a 7 or 8 step approach. The leg that each person jumps off of is different; I jump off my right leg. It is important to have a consistent run down the runway and a fast final two steps in order to generate power in your jumping leg. When it comes to the actual jumping, it is important that I have a good knee-drive upward (comes from the final two steps), good technique in the air (which I’m still pretty bad at) and flexibility.
Coach Garnham is the man. He is funny, outgoing and really cares about his athletes. He is also amazing at what he does when it comes to coaching. My two feet improvement in the long jump since leaving high school is a testament to his coaching. Our relationship is pretty good. I feel like I can go speak to him about anything from home life to school. He has a pretty funny taste in music but it always gives us something to laugh about.
How is the camaraderie between all the members of the track team, even outside the event groups?
The camaraderie between the team is pretty good. It definitely has improved since my freshmen year. I feel as if everyone on the team knows at least one or two other people from another event group. I think our team events are helping us become closer as a team. There’s no doubt in my mind that it will continue to improve and get better. Every group is awesome and should get to know each other.
The Irish track and field team opens up its season Friday, Dec. 6 with the Blue and Gold meet, which takes place at Notre Dame’s Loftus Sports Center. Then, after the winter break, the Irish will go full throttle into the season with meets nearly every weekend until the beginning of March.
Jake Kildoo is a junior philosophy and Arabic major. In addition to his contributions to the Rover, he also is a runner on the cross country team. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.