The track and field outdoor season began for the Racers in rainy Tuscaloosa, Ala., at the Alabama Relays March 19. Despite unfavorable weather, the team left with two personal records and a career best.
Head Coach Jenny Severns said the Racers began their outdoor season with more enthusiasm than expected. The Racers sometimes have trouble differentiating between the indoor and outdoor season because the Racers train all year on an outdoor field. Severns said the biggest difference between the two is maintaining decent weather conditions.
“We look at it as one big season,” Severns said. “You work hard at the beginning of the year always and then when indoor season is over there is just a little more focus on outdoor. It’s not that it’s more important there just becomes more focus.”
With five years of coach experience at Murray State, Severns reflects on her and assistant coach Adam Kiesler’s first recruiting class and how several of those members are graduating.
“We’re losing a lot of fire power,” Severns said. “We’re going to take some tough losses, especially because this is our first recruiting class. The girls have done what we’ve asked of them and even though we weren’t very good when we recruited them they bought into the idea of coming onto the team to make it better.”
Senior jumper Ashley Conway from McHenry, Ill., not only set a personal record, but beat it again in the same day.
“As I approached the board, I thought about what coach told me,” Conway said. “I put my foot down and landed. I felt like it was a bad jump but when I stood up and saw how far I jumped I was surprised.”
Conway’s original long jump record was 5.71 meters but at the Alabama Relays Conway first jumped 5.74 meters. Happy with her new record she entered the finals for long jumps and once again beat her record which is now 5.79 meters. Conway jumped a total of nine inches farther.
“It feels good to continually set a personal record,” Conway said. “The stuff I put out at practice is still playing out and I feel accomplished.”
Other notable accomplishments of the day include junior distance runner Alicyn Hester, who set a career best in the 1,500 meter with a time of 4 minutes 38.22 seconds and freshman distance runner Rebekah Priddy, who set a personal record in the 3,000 meter with a time of 11 minutes 59.82 seconds.
Severns said the meet at Alabama was on the bigger side of relays and was a more challenging opener for the outdoor season than usual.
“I was pretty happy,” Severns said. “Our training volume is at the highest it has been all year. Any good performances you can pull out of the weekend are bonuses because they’re all so tired. It shows they are pretty tough.”
The Racers travel to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in Carbondale, Ill. from Friday to Saturday for their second outdoor game of the season.
The Racers will host the Margaret Simmons Invite for their only home meet of the season on April 3.
Story by Kelsey Randolph, Assistant Sports Editor