BY BEN DUNNING – STAFF WRITER
The approaching 2016 season for the Centre Men and Women’s Track and Field squad will bring lots of promise from last year’s championship teams. For the men, they will be looking to repeat their victorious performance at the 2015 SAA Conference Championship after achieving 19 All-Conference awards for Top 3 finishes in respective events.
Coming off of a Conference Championship and overall successful season on an individual and team level, senior Victor Pataky (who won individual championships in the 5K, 1500m, and 3000m steeplechase in 2015) is looking forward to competing in this year’s conference.
“Conference is always a different meet every season with athletes graduating and even some transferring,” Pataky said, “We always take the season like it will be a dogfight for the title because of how different each team is year to year.”
Last year, Pataky broke the school record in the 3000m steeplechase and was named the SAA Track Athlete of the Year. Other returning award winners from the 2015 men’s team include junior Rubyn Branch, sophomore Allen Hayes, and senior Ivy Duggan, each of whom collected SAA Athlete of the Week honors.
The family dynamic of the team is a big attribute to their preparation and success behind the scenes.
“In my case, I’m always asking, ‘what do I need to do, what can I do to get better?’” senior Herby Charmant, said. “And anyone can get that not only from your coaches but your teammates and the upperclassmen.”
The women’s team is also coming off a highly impressive 2015 campaign, finishing second in the SAA Championship while posting one of the highest team scores in Conference Championship history. That team included 10 All-Conference awards as well as four individual championships.
Sophomore Emily Winkler is very optimistic about the 2016 team’s chances to return to the top of the SAA.
“I would say that the team is very positive and upbeat about the upcoming season,” she said. “Our team is showing a lot of potential to do great things already.”
Senior Cammie Jo Bolin acknowledged the unique opportunity that the sport provides athletes to compete on an individual and team level.
“One thing I love about track and field is that it’s both an individual and a team sport—the points you earn and the place you finish in individually contribute to the overall team score,” said Bolin. “It’s easy to get discouraged when you don’t run quite as fast or jump quite as far as you expect to, but having the support of teammates helps you keep going and move on to the next event.”
Also returning to the 2016 women’s track and field team is sophomore Sarah Hayhurst. Last season, Hayhurst broke her own Centre school record in the pole vault while earning a qualification for the DIII NCAA Championships. She also competes for the Centre Diving team and attended the 2015 NCAA National Diving Championships.
After one month of competition, the Colonels look to pick up some momentum over the next couple of meets. The men’s team finished eighth out of 13, 11th out of 11, and seventh out of 17 respectably in their three meets during February. On the women’s side, the team placed sixth of 12, sixth of 9, and fourth of 16 respectably.