The Leopards push to make nationals.
The men’s and women’s track and field teams took full advantage of a non-Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference meet to better their individual chances of making nationals.
The Saturday event brought an array of Division I, II and III athletes as well as performances by elite national-level and international competitors in each event.
“This meet didn’t count for SCIAC,” freshman Kendall Kraiss said. “But if you are good enough, it could help you qualify for nationals.”
Collegiate athletes as well as unattached club teams and the paraplegic Olympic team showcased their best.
With the large amount of participants it brought out the best for La Verne who had ten stand out performances on both the men’s and women’s team.
“Everyone was really pumped because of the competition,” said senior thrower Jordan Murphy.
“I was really pleased with everyone’s performance,” said coach Jason Tavarez.
Ten athletes stood out above the rest at the meet, including a school record by Clarissa Holz in the 400 hurdles and Marcus Fortugno who recorded a personal record in the 400 meter race with a time only .01 seconds behind the national leader in Division III.
Although the team had a successful weekend, audiences could tell something was wrong with many of the La Verne athletes.
“We are dropping like flies,”said junior sprinter Kristine Leonard.
Leonard is talking about the numerous injuries plaguing to the track teams in relation to the poor condition of the track.
For those who do not know the track does not meet the NCAA standards and therefore forfeits La Verne’s option to host home track events.
Although this news is damaging enough to athletes who wish to have the experience of a home track, the true damage is to those who practice on the track. Members of the team are suffering from terrible shin splints and even bone stress fractures.
“It’s been really frustrating to the coaches, the people who are injured, and the people who run the relays especially,” Kraiss said. “It really sucks.”
Back in 1972 there was an engineering error during the construction of the Athletic Tents that caused First Street to be buried under the track field without removing the concrete.
When it rains the asphalt traps the rainwater and causes it to travel back to the surface creating bubbles, bumps and even cracks in the track.
“Before the injuries, we looked really good for the SCIAC championship,” Murphy said.
“Honestly, I’m pissed,” Leonard said. “It’s way too many stress fractures, and everyone on the team has shin splints.”
Leonard recalls how every year there have been track related injuries, but that the number of stress fractures has significantly increased this year.
Even with their given situation, the teams are still working hard to achieve their goals with a positive attitude.
“There is nothing we can do about it,” Kraiss said.
“If we just stay as healthy as possible, then we will have a good chance of placing,” said Murphy.
The teams have their final SCIAC meet Saturday, which will be hosted by Whittier.
On Saturday both the men’s and women’s track and field squads will be back in action all day at the SCIAC Quad in Whittier.
The team is 3-3 in conference events and will use the non-conference event to prepare for a strong showing in the conference championship held at Pomona on April 30 and May 1.
Ashley Morgado can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.