For starters, coach Empie began his first season with the team. Since the program has consisted of mainly distance runners in the past years, it was a rebuilding process. Before the PSAC Championships, Empie was pleased with the season thus far. “In the first year I didn’t have many expectations, especially from the field events,” he said. “I didn’t anticipate we would have fifteen throwers and things would come along as quickly as they did.”
Empie pointed out that the team this year set many school top ten performances and that six athletes established new BU records. One new school record was by Jamie Waack in the Heptathlon with 4,223 points. Katie Corson achieved school records in the 500 meters with a time of 1:22.89 and in the 200 meters running 27.85 seconds. Julianna Spitzer cleared 2.75 meters in the pole vault for a new school record. For the weight throw, Laura Schlotterbeck threw 10.57 meters and on the men’s side, Josh Encarnacion heaved a weight 11.51 meters, both claiming new school records. In addition, Lauren Dyer set a school record of 8.64 meters in the women’s shot put.
“It’s always a bittersweet taste in track and field, you always want more,” Empie reflected. One of his desires was to have more athletes qualify for the PSAC Championships, which took place from Feb. 28 to March 1. Coach Empie further described the difficulties of being patient at a rebuilding program; “It will take a couple years of recruited athletes to become better.”
Jamie Waack, a sophomore, was part of the track team’s transition to a more complete team. He practiced and competed in the Heptathlon during the season, which consists of seven events over two days of competition: 55 meters, long jump, shot put, high jump, 55 meter- hurdles, pole vault, and 1,000 meters.
“It’s spaced out enough that it’s not physically demanding, but it definitely takes endurance,” said Waack of the challenge of the event. “You’re definitely tired after the second day, when finished with the 1,000 (meter race).” Waack reached his initial goal of qualifying for the conference championships and stated his new plan was to improve in his weaker events while competing there, to achieve a better overall score.
At the championships he was able to perform better than his last attempt. Waack ended up improving 176 points from his prior mark and re-set the school record to a new combined total of 4,223 points. His efforts also earned him a 10th place finish at the championships.
Senior Mike Dalton experienced a new change with his season as well. His transition this season involved learning how to balance student teaching and running track at the same time. Although, Dalton was not always able to make it to all the team practices and expressed he was constantly tired from teaching, he still managed a fine season.
“I wasn’t getting tired…I didn’t feel like I was hanging on,” Dalton said remembering how he felt during a 3,000 race, which qualified him for PSAC Championships. Dalton said he was in “a little bit of shock” after he crossed the line, “I had no idea I could run 8:47.58,” which was a new personal best for him.
At the championships, Dalton ran a respectable time of 8:48.86 and placed 11th overall in the event. Dalton learned from his unique season that, “Even when you’re training for your career you can still accomplish something.”
Senior Ashley Shuck saw a transition this season as well, as her training was geared more towards running the 10,000 meters during the upcoming outdoor season. The new practice regime she took on demanded more miles and conditioning at a different pace.
Shuck qualified in the 3,000 meter-race with a time of 10:27.45 and also qualified in the 5,000 meter-run by running 18:54.82. She said her mindset would be “one race at a time” going into the championship weekend having to compete in two of the longest events.
As it turns out, Shuck stayed focused and placed 10th in the 5K race. While doing so, she dropped her time down to 18:30.37, which made her the eighth fastest runner in school history in the event. The next day she ran a time of 10:44.76 in the 3K and finished 15th place overall.
Another senior runner this past season was Shannon Hoffman. She also experienced something new and better about this past season, since she completed one of her few seasons without sickness or injury.
However, Hoffman missed the qualifying time in the 5,000 meter-event by just six seconds after running a time of 19:30. One thing that didn’t help was the fact that Hoffman fell down during that race, losing significant time and momentum. She still has the scar on her leg to prove it.
Hoffman was able to regroup and not only did she qualify in a different race, the 3,000 meters, but she ended up running a time of 10:42.47, which was a new career best.
When she was asked about how she would approach the championship race Hoffman said, “Make the best of it because I haven’t been able to compete at PSAC Championships for three years.”
Hoffman finished at the championship with a time of 10:56.60 in the 3K race, after competing in the mile leg of the eighth-place distance medley relay the day before.
Karen Brandt, former volunteer coach for track said she was pleased with this season, but stated, “It had its disappointments.” She explained, “The illness that went around campus robbed some of our athletes from qualifying.” Although, Brandt was content while recounting the team’s maturity when they faced diversity and stated that they “gave tough, valiant efforts.”
The team sent ten other athletes to the PSAC Championships. Senior Misha Litvinov qualified in the 3,000 meter-race with a time of 8:58.07 and also made the conference mark for the 5,000 meters by running 15:48.36. For the men’s pole vault, sophomore Mitch Thompson with a height of 4.35 meters as well as freshman Adam Mowry with a mark of 4.10 meters both qualified. A duo of freshmen qualified for the 5,000 meter-event, Bobby Furman had a time of 15:38.74 and the other was Dave Moyer in 15:50.98. Qualifying for the woman’s 5,000 meters in a time of 19:02.74 was freshman Kaitlyn McShay. Freshman Nate Snodgrass sprinted 23.48 seconds to qualify in the 200 meters. Also the women’s distance medley relay team of Beth Schwing (1200m), Kathryn Corson (400m), Samantha Rhood (800m), and Hoffman (1600m) competed at the conference championships.
The BU Indoor Track and Field Team is becoming a more complete program, thanks to the transitions made by the coaches and the seniors that led the team throughout the recent years. The timing sure couldn’t be any better with the immense talent and bright future of the team’s underclassmen competitors.