The Concordian Sports February 23, 1996

Expectations high for women's track in MIAC meet

by Katie Mack

Sports writer

They gather every afternoon in the Olson Forum. Amidst the crack of baseballs and the swoosh of basketball nets, upbeat chatter can be heard from the corner where Concordia's women's track team is preparing to begin practice.

At precisely 3:30 in the afternoon, with the sound of padding feet, the group starts their four-lap warm-up. There are no fancy uniforms to distinguish this group. They are a multitude of colors as they pass through the back stretch to finish their laps. Stretches are led by captains as the women re-hash their day with fellow teammates and offer a listening ear to each other's stresses.

After stretching, the team prepares for drills along the straight-a-way. They can be seen hopping, skipping, jumping, twisting, turning and running like school children at recess. After the coaches are satisfied the team is sufficiently warmed up, they will break into groups by event where they will complete the day's workout designed by their event coach.

Although workouts divide the team, there is still a strong sense of team unity. Runners get cheers of encouragement from throwers and jumpers as they run by. When the runners have a break in the action, they return the positive support.

"We have a very good support system. The ladies are all very good at supporting each other through all the events," said sophomore distance runner Krista Bergren.

This attitude keeps the momentum rolling throughout practice as the women encourage each other to push themselves and finish the day's practice in the weight room.

Every weekend these Cobbers get an opportunity to test their talent and skill in competition. The first weekend in March, however, brings the final exam, so to speak. On Thursday, the MIAC Indoor Championships will begin at St. Olaf with the pentathlon. The University of Minnesota will host the remaining events March 1 and 2, marking the pinnacle of the season for most of Concordia's track athletes. Those athletes qualifying based on performances in prior meets will compete in the conference championships for the opportunity to continue on to the NCAA Division III Nationals the following weekend in Massachusetts. The upcoming event adds a lot of excitement to the afternoon atmosphere in the Olson Forum. Although everyone will admit they have individual goals, the main focus centers on the team.

Head Coach Marv Roeske has expectations for individuals that focus on overall team performance. "I'd like to see us get as many personal records as possible at the conference meet or match our best performances of the year. Everything else will fall into place," said Roeske.

Junior sprinter Kristi Berger explained that the meet is not only exciting because of its importance to the season, but also because of the level of competition that will be present. "We've been competing against Division II schools and most of the first-year students haven't had a chance to see the Division III competition. It will be fun to compete at our level," said Berger.

The captains also have energetic attitudes and high expectations for the team.

"We're very confident," said senior co-captain Sara Spohr.

Junior co-captain Michele Haugen has obvious enthusiasm for the team at conference. "Our team is going in trying to maintain or improve on our third place finish from last year. I believe this goal will be met."

Roeske said the conference meet is competitive and anyone could finish second or third. "We are really young. For a lot of us, it will be our first college conference championship. No one will be disappointed as long as we go in there and give it our best," said Roeske.

Cheering the team on is Olympic hopeful and former Cobber Kris Kuehl. "I know that they have a lot of individual talent that can do really well at the conference meet and national meet," said Kuehl. "I wish that we could beat St. Thomas. It'd also be nice for Concordia to give St. Olaf a run for their money."

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