Track transitioning from indoor to outdoor

Track transitioning from indoor to outdoor

Track transitioning from indoor to outdoor
March 03
00:15 2015

Reece Waddell / Staff Writer

The Mean Green track team traveled to Birmingham, Alabama this past weekend to compete in the Conference USA Indoor Track and Field Championships. The North Texas women placed fourth overall and the men came in fifth.

With more than 30 events, points are earned by each school’s placement in a particular match. There were 17 events that counted toward a school’s total score. North Texas placed first overall in five different events, with four first-place titles coming from the women. Head coach Carl Sheffield said he looks for his team to do even better in the years to come.

“Overall I think we did alright,” Sheffield said. “We’re still looking to be more competitive within C-USA. I feel like when we switched two years ago we weren’t fully ready. We’re looking to improve as a team and score more points.”

The switch Sheffield is referring to occurred in 2013, when North Texas switched to C-USA from the Sun Belt Conference. Sheffield said he believes at times his team is a work in progress, but is proud of its accomplishments.

“We’ve improved a lot during my first four years,” Sheffield said.  “But we have to do better in conference and that’s going to come with time and getting acclimated.”

During the fall and winter months, the team prepares for the indoor championships as opposed to the traditional outdoor sport. Junior distance runner Shauna Pali said there isn’t much of a difference between indoor and outdoor, and competing inside doesn’t really change an athlete’s game plan.

“Other than the track being bigger, it really isn’t that different,” Pali said. “Some people think when you compete outside the weather plays a huge role and it really doesn’t. The biggest difference is runners will get adjusted times and you sometimes have better footing on the indoor [track].”

The team will now prepare for the outdoor season and Pali said weather begins to play a factor.

“I mean, every once in a while it will be really windy or it will rain,” Pali said. “But it’s like anything else. You have to adjust, compete and run your best race.”

Pali is one of many athletes on the team who run cross country in the fall. These athletes run farther distances and focus more on endurance.

“The long-distance runners are a tremendous asset to this team,” Sheffield said. “They help in a lot of ways, but especially in terms of their stamina. But it’s not like they’re running the shorts. They do their own events.”

The team has 11 seniors this season, and Sheffied said they have taken a big leadership role.

“When I got here, we had seniors, but they were nowhere near being leaders,” Sheffield said “Now, I feel like there are seniors on this team that have really stepped up and taken the weight on their shoulders collectively.”

One of these seniors is high-jumper Shahaf Bareni, who placed first overall in the women’s high-jump this past weekend. Athletes must leap to clear a bar and the higher they jump, the more points they score. Bareni said it’s an exhilarating feeling getting to compete in this event.

“What makes this event different is it’s just you and the bar,” Bareni said. “It’s not like running where you’re competing against other runners. The only thing you have to go against is the bar. It’s exciting.”

Even though Bareni was one of only five athletes to place first in an event this past weekend, she said she is more concerned with winning as a team.

“I think a problem we have now is some people are okay with being average,” Bareni said. “That’s one thing Coach Sheffield has helped with. He isn’t okay with that and he pushes us every day to get better. All of the seniors, and everyone really, wants to win and we try to help the younger people on the team.”

Sheffield said despite the expansion of the track program since his arrival and the improvements he has seen, one thing North Texas must continue to work on is the quality of its second-tier athletes.

“We have a lot of first-tier guys that are extremely capable,” Sheffield said. “But after that, the quality in our depth seems to drop off. We need to get more people involved with the team to improve our depth.”

Through the struggles of switching to a new conference, Sheffield has seen a tremendous amount of growth and maturity on the team. He said the team has the tools to win. It’s just a matter of putting them together.

“We know how to push each other and how to compete. All we have to do is keep doing it,” Sheffield said.

Featured Image: The track and field team begin warm ups and stretching exercises at Fouts Field last month. Photo by Byron Thompson – Senior Staff Photographer

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