Missouri State’s track and field team will travel to Terre Haute, Indiana, for the Missouri Valley Conference Outdoor Championships on May 10-12.
Back in February, the team competed in the Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Championships, finishing sixth among the 10 teams.
Interim head coach Jordan Fife expects his team to perform better at the outdoor championships than they did at indoor, based on their outdoor season so far.
At the Mizzou Open in early April, the Bears came home with 19 top-five finishes. Since then, the athletes seem to reset their personal bests at each meet, running faster and jumping higher.
On April 24-27 at the Drake Relays, junior Grace Breiten placed first among collegiate athletes in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, the 4x100-meter relay placed second in the finals, senior Taryn Smiley placed fifth in the 100-meter dash finals and the 4x800-meter relay set a new school record.
Fife said Drake Relays was a good confidence booster, showing his athletes they are just as good, if not better than people they have thought of as unreachable in the past.
“It’s key to stay confident these next couple weeks and know that what we’ve done up to this point has been really good, but we’re going to have to do it at the conference championship,” Fife said.
Fife said his team is most successful when every event area is doing well. He said the team feeds off each other, and it’s good to see the distance runners cheering hard during the sprint races and vice versa.
Fife said though he expects the team to be very competitive and perform well in their events, he doesn’t see a top-three team finish in their future this season.
“The fact is, we’re still not a very deep team,” Fife said. “That’s a pretty tall order to finish in the top three at conference. We just don’t have enough bodies competing.”
Instead of having three or four athletes on the top-10 list, Missouri State may only have one or two. That makes a big difference when it comes to the team standings.
Missouri State has a fairly small roster this spring, compared to previous seasons, due to turnover. Some athletes graduated, some were lost through transfer and some recruits never showed up to campus.
Fife said some event areas were not as heavily recruited as they probably should have been over the summer. The current staff, who arrived in August, is working hard with the athletes they do have.
The outdoor championships begin on Friday, May 10, with the heptathlon, hammer throw, javelin throw, 1,500-meter run, 200-meter dash and 10,000-meter run.
A complete schedule of events can be found online at www.mvc-sports.com on the outdoor track and field page.