The University of South Dakota men and women’s track teams will compete in their first outdoor meet of the season March 22-23. Both squads will send athletes to take part in the 2013 ASU Invitational, which will take place at Sun Angel Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.
A number of members have already competed in the indoor season, with the USD men’s team winning the Summit League Indoor Championships at the DakotaDome in February.
USD men’s head coach Dave Gottsleben emphasized how important the first outdoor meet is for both teams.
“We take athletes who probably didn’t have an event (during the indoor season),” Gottsleben said. “It’s a good opportunity to take some kids down to a warm setting and hopefully start the outdoor season in a wonderful way.”
At least 28 Coyote athletes are expected to be part of the ASU Invitational. Many of the track team members are competing for the first time this school year, and head coach women’s coach Lucky Huber hopes they are ready for their respective events in Tempe.
“For those kids, it’s really important,” Huber said. “They’ve been waiting for a long time. You get the itch and the rust knocked off.”
Huber said the transition from the indoor season to the outdoor season is regulated through days when members of the track program start their “get into shape” exercises.
“When we get done with our indoor season, we’re in pretty good racing shape, but not really the shape where you can hold for an outdoor season,” Huber said.
Among the athletes preparing for the first outdoor meet of the year is senior sprinter Brandon Kovash. Kovash, who is also a captain on the men’s team, will take part in at least two events.
“I’d like to pull some decent times,” Kovash said, “So, I’m staying in my normal routine and hopefully we’ll get some good weather out there.”
When it comes to the adjustment of running outdoors, Kovash actually prefers it. He said because of his physical makeup and the differences on an outdoor track, it’s easier for him to compete.
“I definitely prefer the outdoor season a lot better than I would the indoor,” he said.
Weather has been cited as both an advantage and an obstacle during outdoor races. Kovash said factors such as strong winds can interfere when an athlete competes. However, he also said every track athlete will be confronted by it.
Junior hurdler Tricia Watson has been preparing for her own adjustments to the outdoor season. She said that the 400-meter hurdles race is her strength, but this wasn’t an event during the indoor season. Watson has been focusing on moving around a track as opposed to using a straight-away method.
“We’re just working really hard on starts and endurance,” Watson said.
As USD prepares to go to Tempe, Kovash said his role as a captain can help him start “leading by example.”
“If someone sees you run a good race or jump far, it might motivate you,” Kovash said.
High-quality teams will be running with USD at the ASU Invitational. However, the team is focusing on their individual performances.
“You just have to mentally prepare yourself to just know you can stick with (other runners) if you just run,” said Watson.