On Jan. 29 and 30 Oklahoma Christian University attended their first track meet of the 2021 indoor season, the Washburn Open.
“First meet of the season is a little bit of a process,” Head Coach Wade Miller said. “Most athletes there’s a little bit of rust in the process of remembering what the pre-race or pre-event jitters feels like, and how to manage those.”
Oklahoma Christian found some success despite the low expectations inherent to any season’s first meet.
“We had some people that had personal bests,” Miller said. “It’s always a good thing to start up your season at a much higher level than you started off your season last year.”
Taelor Brown, a sophomore competing in the weight throw and shot put, was among those that had a personal record, or PR. Still, she came away with mixed feelings about her performance.
“That was a throw that I really liked to see, especially in a first meet,” Brown said. “It was 43 (feet) 5 and 3/4 (inches). After that, I was done throwing and could definitely tell that I had some technique to work on.”
Alex Samples, a freshman jumper for Oklahoma Christian, had similar thoughts.
“My very first [long] jump, jumped 6 (meters) 54 (centimeters) and we had set a goal for me to jump 6 (meters) 50 (centimeters) that day,” Samples said. High jump did not share that success. “I only cleared my opening height … so, kind of frustrated with that.”
The best way for Brown, Samples and the rest of the team to meet their goals is clear and simple.
“Reps,” Miller said. “We’ve only got a finite amount of time, so just doing our best to maximize the time that we’re in practice.”
The amount of time Oklahoma Christian has to improve is certainly finite as COVID-19 has condemned their indoor season to just three meets this year.
“People think ‘three meets? Oh, that’s a lot of time,’” Samples said. “That’s a very short amount of time. So, a little bit of pressure, but as an athlete you get through a bit of pressure every season.”
Competition and shorter schedules may bring pressure, but for Brown, practicing benefits them as more than just an athlete.
“I think it can improve your health [and] mental health,” Brown said. “I know for me, after going to classes all day and going into practice it really is a way for me to cope with all my stress.”
The track team’s philosophy helps them as well.
“Track is one of those things. You can win in individual and you also win as a team,” Samples said. “I’m doing everything I need to do, but then I have people around me that I need to check up on and make sure they’re on the right path too.”
Another part of that philosophy is Champion Mentality, a highly advocated term within the program.
“It goes into your mindset and the way that you approach things,” Miller said. It’s ‘I want to be better than the athlete that I was yesterday.’ [It’s] seeing competitions as opportunities to better yourself and really work on your craft.”