DII women's track and field: Pittsburg State working hard to defend national title
Pittsburg State sophomore sprinter Imani Hutchinson already knows the track workouts for her and her teammates the week of May 14 through May 20 will be as grueling as any in mid-March when the outdoor season began.
The track and field athletes at Pittsburg State who qualified for nationals aren’t just happy with that achievement. They want to go to Bradenton, Florida, for the Division II Outdoor Track and Field National Championships and succeed at the highest level.
A year ago, the Pittsburg State women’s track program won its first-ever national title. The team was deep with youthful talent and had veteran leaders like Cassie Caswell, who competed in the throws, to help mold the team into a national champion.
“That was overwhelming, being a freshman and part of a national championship team,” Hutchinson said. “A lot of the upperclassmen told me to keep working, keep pushing. I worked really hard.”
Caswell has moved on and new leaders like senior Emilyn Dearman and Amira Jenkins provide the same kind of leadership.
“We have such a young team, but we definitely have leaders on the team who definitely push us and motivate us,” Hutchinson said. “We love each other so much that we can tell each other to keep pushing in practice.”
For instance, there come moments in practice when you don’t feel like you can run another sprint or take another jump or toss another shot put. Instead of sitting down and resting, a teammate will encourage the group to keep pushing for the ultimate goal.
“That,” Hutchinson said, “is what really helps us bond as a team. We don’t mind telling each other that we have to push harder, that there is a bigger goal at the end of the season. Our goal is to be national champions.”
It is that attitude, said Pittsburg State assistant track coach Matt Brown, that makes coaching this group a joy to work with. Brown sees that motivation from these student-athletes in competition and in the classroom.
“These ladies on the team this year and last year are kinds of a coach’s dream,” Brown said. Not only are they really talented athletically, the vast majority of them are really good in the classroom.
“Maybe that is why what we say resonate with them. They get it. They don’t let their mind tell them this is going to hurt when it does hurt. They are smart enough to know, ‘this is going to hurt, but it is going to take me where I want to go.'”
For Hutchinson, it means doing well in the 100 and 200-meter dashes and to do her part as the first leg in the 4x100 relay team.
Hutchinson is coming off a very successful performance at the MIAA Outdoor Championships May 5-7. She took first in the 100, 200 and the 4x100, helping Pittsburg State score 212 points and winning the conference title.
Through the years, Pittsburg State has been strong in the field events. With the emergence of Hutchinson and senior Kelsey Lewis, the team is now scoring valuable points in the sprints as well.
“With the sprints, the throws and multi kids, we are capable of scoring in many different places,” Brown said.
“I have some very talented ladies on the team and they hate to lose. They will put in the time, the effort and the work.”
A strong work ethic has helped Hutchinson take her sprint ability to the next level.
“She has gotten stronger in the weight room,” Brown said. “Her block starts has really gotten better. She and her teammate, Kelsey Lewis both have done considerably better from last year. We worked really hard coming out of the blocks, no wasted motion in the first 10 steps. That has really helped them.
“The one thing about Imani is if you prescribe a workout for her, she does it. If I told her to go out and run five 800s, she will do it. She has done everything she is asked to do in workouts. It has paid off.”
Hutchinson understands how important the next two weeks are to achieve more success. She will run the 100 and 200 on Saturday at Pittsburg State’s Rumble in the Jungle Last Chance Qualifier.
“My mindset is pretty much always the same for a meet and that is to go in and beat the clock,” Hutchinson said. “It is about being the best competitor you can be.
Following the last chance qualifier, more hard workouts will take place before heading to Bradenton.
“I will put all my energy into being the best athlete possible,” Hutchinson said. “It is going to be exhausting. We are going to push harder than we are used to. But at the end of the day, we know it is going to be rewarding.
“To see you are finally going to nationals, it is exciting and exhilarating. You go to nationals and you want to do good. I want to be good so you push yourself to the next level.”
West Texas A&M wins Lone Star Conference meet in dramatic fashion
Last Saturday, the No. 1-ranked West Texas A&M women’s track and field team experienced an exciting moment when it edged out No. 3-ranked Angelo State by one point to win its second straight Lone Star Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championship.
The Lady Buffs scored 211 points and Angelo State finished with 210. West Texas A&M trailed by as many as 29 points on the final day of competition.
By the hair of our chinny-chin-chin... pic.twitter.com/CfBLnzqMeF— WTAMU TrackXC (@WTAMUTrackXC) May 7, 2017
Helping West Texas A&M make the dramatic jump to first place was jumper Rellie Kaputin, a senior, who finished first in the long jump on Saturday and second in the high jump. Sophomore Norma Cunigan took second in the discus with the fifth-best throw in school history.
“I am so proud of the way that our kids rallied on the final day,” said West Texas head coach Darren Flowers on the school’s website. “There were quite a few things that did not go our way but we stayed resilient and kept competing. Angelo State has a great program and they definitely pushed our kids to the wire. This is what championship season is all about and just another reminder that every point counts.”