The cross country and track teams are beginning their seasons later this month on a new renovated track for athletes to train and compete on.
“It is a high quality track that is very nice to train and race on," said Justin Decker, head coach of cross country and track and field. "It feels good to run on and is much safer and better to train on then what we have used in the past."
The old track was worn down, which made the surface hard to run on and was more likely to cause injury.
Built in the 1990's it hasn't been repaired in 20 years. After the old track was torn out and the new track and football/soccer turf took about 6 months to install.
Plans for the new track include putting a throwing area on the grass field below the track and long jump pits under the scoreboard near the south end of the track. The high jump and pole vault areas are already in place on the inside of the track.
"Other than a couple of hard workouts each week, we usually are running with teammates at a conversational pace for most practices," said Hunter Chamberlain, a junior business administration major from St. George. "This has allowed me to really get to know my teammates and build some of the best friendships I have ever had."
The track will now be able to support a full track team which will include 100, 200, and 400 meter, 800 meter, 1500 meter, 5K, 10K, 100M hurdles, 400M hurdles, 3000 meter steeplechase, 4x100 relay, and 4x400 relay.
The field events include long jump, triple jump, high jump, pole vault, shot put, discus, javelin, and hammer throw.
"We plan to eventually compete in the field events but it's not going to be cheap to add those events,“ Decker said.
This year's team consists of nine runners on the men’s cross country and 18 on the women’s cross country. The women's team for track currently has 21 athletes.
"The freshmen have a ton of talent and potential, and the returners bring experience and a great work ethic," said Skyler Storie, a sophomore exercise science major from Cottonwood, Arizona. "This is the hardest working group of girls we have had yet. I think the results from our first meet can attest to that."
Last year the men's team finished by stetting a 10k record at the NCAA Division II West Regionals.
"Ben Fish and Miguel Ramirez were two of our fastest freshmen from last year and are already looking faster this year." Chamberlain said. "(And) Yonas Detas has always been one of our top runners and is anxious to do something great this season with this being his Senior year."
Alyssa Haring, a sophomore from Riverside, California, will lead the women's team; she finished four races in the top 25 last year.
“We are thrilled with the opportunity we have been given to compete in Women's track," Decker said. "Hopefully someday we will have the opportunity to compete in men's track also."
The new track will provide athletes the opportunity to train on a high quality and safe surface right on campus.
“In past years we have had to do the majority of our training off campus so having a nice track to use on campus is huge for our athletes,“ Decker said.
For the distance runners, they start and finish their workouts at the stadium. They run a four mile loop a few times a week, along with several hiking trails.
"As the women's team captain, I try to lead by example," Storie said. "I try to bring a good attitude and work ethic to practice every day. I am a very vocal athlete, I always cheer for my teammates and encourage them during workouts and races. Its all about having fun and enjoying what we do. "
Before the team is to host any meets, they will need to have the necessary facilities and equipment for all of the track and field events.
"I'm very pleased with where our teams are at this point in the season and think that we are going to have a good season," Decker said. "Our goals are for both of our teams to place in the top 5 at our conference meet and we should have a good chance at making that happen."
This years track team will be focusing on events such as sprints, hurdles, distance, as well as recruiting athletes to those particular events until construction on the long jump pits and throwing area are complete.