Prolonged winter limits track and field to fewer meets

By Jamie Macpherson

Adjust, adapt and improve has been the motto of Macalester’s track team this year, Coach Martin Peper says, borrowing a line from Monty Python’s John Cleese. This has been a rough year for the Scots, who have been plagued by both bad weather and multiple injuries.The team finally got a break at the Twilight Meet. All week long, Minnesota saw fit to give them a week of warm weather, making it easier for the Scots to practice outside. The day of the meet was the warmest it’s been all year. This was much needed after a difficult snowy spring.

“The season’s actually been pretty touch so far,” Andrew Yokom ’09 said. Yokom, a hurdler and a sprinter, is suffering from what may be a stress fracture in his foot.

“When you add in the weather. it’s been tough to get into a rhythm because [the season’s] been so broken up.” Two of the regular meets have been canceled due to snow earlier this year, making it difficult for the athletes to gauge how they’re progressing, Yokom said.

“I don’t really have a good sense of what other people feel,” Libby Tollefson ’11, a distance runner, said. “I kind of feel like we’re just getting started.” Tollefson spoke of how the team has been affected by the numerous injuries this year. “The fewer people who race, the harder it is to get into it,” she said. “It’s easier to race and have fun when everyone’s healthy.”

“The MIAC’s a lot more competitive this year,” Wade Ekstrom ’10 said. “There are a lot of seniors returning who have improved. The competition is a lot higher than last year.”

But Yokom remains optimistic about the goals ahead. “Hopefully now people are starting to get back on track,” Yokom said. In these last few meets, the majority of the athletes are looking to run a qualifying time, or a personal record. “In terms of the team, everyone’s trying to get in the groove and start peaking for conference,” he said.

“It’s not like our season’s lost,” Peper agreed. “We’re going to get there, it’s just going to take a little longer.” Peper called the Twilight Meet a “target meet,” saying that this was the optimal race for getting good times, as most of the atheletes have started peaking in their training. “The goal this week is to do well at home, so that the week of Hamline is a tune up for conference.”

But while there is a large amount of pressure resting on qualifying, the Scots also enjoy the race, their only home meet. “The Twilight meet is a lot of fun,” Yokom said. “Especially when we have a crowd.” The Scots were not disappointed in their fan turn out. With such sunny weather, the Twilight meet drew a much larger crowd than usual.

“It was exciting to watch,” Tollefson said of her first men’s Twilight meet. “I’ve never run a meet at night before. It was really pretty in the beginning, with the sun going down, it was still really hot out . but by the 5K it was chilly.” The women have their meet on Saturday, and Tollefson says she’s very excited.

But the season draws to a bittersweet close, as the Scots will be losing a large chunk of their graduating seniors. “There are a number of distance seniors we’ll miss,” Yokom said. “We have a lot of potential [for next year]. At least I’m going to be around for another year to see how it all meshes out then.”

“We’re heavy on seniors,” Ekstrom noted. “Next year could be a rebuilding year if we don’t get a lot of good freshmen. We’ve had three new freshmen on the distance team, they all look very promising. If they stick with it, they’ll really add to the team.”

And it looks like at least some of the first-years are here to stay. “I’ve learned a lot of technical things,” Tollefson said of this year’s experience. “I definitely think I’ll do it again for the sport, but also the people are great. If I wasn’t interested in the races, I’d probably keep doing it just to be around these people.