The season gets underway on Saturday, Dec. 2 for the University of Utah track and field team as it’s set to compete in the Weber State Winter Open. Head coach Kyle Kepler said it might be a smaller competition, but it is going to be a positive learning experience for his team.
“It will be low key. There won’t be a lot of teams there,” Kepler said. “But at the same time, it’s [a] chance to try, to put a jersey on, go through the pre-race, pre-competition routines … check ins and get to the start line.”
This will be the first time the athletes who compete in the non-long distance events will face competition because some of the athletes in the distance competitions are coming off a long cross country season. According to Kepler, the sprinters, hurdlers and jumpers are ready to go. As for the distance runners, Kepler said their training will get into full swing after Christmas.
Sprinter Alissa Atisme said that with the mix of returners and new talent that has joined the team, it’s helping to bring everybody together. She also believes the offseason training the team has done is going to be a benefit for Utah down the road.
“We’ve been doing a lot of single squats and single side of the body stuff so that’s kind of how we have been preparing too,” Atisme said. “And I think that’s going to make a really big difference of just strength and power off of the single leg.”
Atisme said that part of the new training routine comes from the new coaching addition the team made. Chad Colwell joined the staff earlier this year, and he oversees the sprinters, jumpers, hurdlers and multi-event athletes on the team.
“We’ve been doing a lot of things that are different for the team this year as far as training goes, and a lot more for me, cardiovascular training,” Atisme said. “So longer distances, less rests and that has been something that has helped me.”
Kepler hopes to see the same thing out of his team at the opener that he has seen during practices leading up to this. He doesn’t want the team to overthink anything, but rather do what they have been doing to prepare for the season.
“Hopefully we’ve done well enough preparing them for that,” Kepler said.
While most of the team will be competing in Ogden, Utah, distance runner Grayson Murphy will be racing in the 5,000-meter race at the Boston University Season Opener the same day. Murphy is coming off an 8th place finish in the NCAA Cross Country Championships.
“She’s trying to take advantage of qualifying for NCAA early on here in the season,” Kepler said. “Trying to knock that out if we can.”
The Weber State Winter Opens starts at 2 p.m. and at 2:20 p.m. the BU Opener takes place.