Coming off a strong season last year, the University of South Dakota outdoor track and field team is moving forward by focusing on the small details to achieve success.
“We know what we need to do, and we’re really driven,” senior distance runner Taylor Chapman said. “We’ve started to fine tune our training, and we have all the resources we need heading into the outdoor season.”
But that doesn’t mean the season can’t take a toll on the athletes. After coming off of a successful indoor season, with the men winning its third consecutive Summit League Indoor Track & Field title and the Coyote women finishing runner-up for the second year in a row, training can become grueling.
“Spring break is a nice halfway mark for us,” sophomore jumper Tyler Frank said. “A few of us stayed in Vermillion instead of going anywhere for break so we could keep training.”
To keep everything in check and their eyes on a broader goal, sophomore distance runner Nicole Schmidt said it is important to stay smart and focused.
“You have to stay focused on the bigger picture,” she said. “It’s always about keeping your body healthy and your teammates encouraged, because each season is setting the base for the next year.”
This year the men were picked first to win the Summit League outdoor championship, and the women were picked second.
Building off of the base from last year, Chapman, also a team captain, said it is good to see confidence in his team and the ability to build from a stronger foundation.
“We usually head into the season as the underdogs, not picked to win,” he said. “That’s been a chip on our shoulder for a while now, but we’re confident heading into the rest of this season, whether it’s good or bad to be picked to do so well.”
Frank also appreciates contributions from the upperclassmen, but knows there will be some shoes to fill in the years to come.
“We’ve lost a lot of redshirts, and we’ve got some big point scorers from the older guys on the men’s side,” he said.
While the goal is always to win conference, the team does know there are also little goals along the way to get to that point as a team.
“As long as you’re doing your part, that’s how success is built,” said Schmidt, who accomplished a new personal best at the Baldy Castillo meet in Tempe, Ariz. “As long as you keep the future in mind and do the little things right, we can be successful.”
For now, Chapman, who also recorded a personal best at the Baldy Castillo meet and recently made the Summit League Indoor Track and Field Academic All-League teams, said it’s important to keep adjusting and take everything week by week.
“The first few weeks are hard, especially because everyone is so spread out,” Chapman said. “We just have to take it week by week and support each other each race to keep the bigger picture in mind.”
(Photo: Sophomore jumper Tyler Frank leaps during indoor track season. Frank and fellow student athletes are staying focused to accomplish goals throughout the season working towards the desired conference win. Submitted / Aaron Packard)