College athletics is a microcosm, a world set apart from the rest of the campus, with it’s own set of students who not only take part in the rigors of academics, but also in the cumbersome load of practice, competition and NCAA regulations. The UC Irvine Men’s and Women’s Track and Field teams can attest to the dedication it has taken to survive the longanimity of the track and field season.
Now, as the team races down the final straightaway toward the Big West Conference meet, which will include Long Beach State, Cal State Northridge, Cal State Fullerton, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, Idaho State, Utah State, Pacific and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, the Anteaters have begun to put the finishing touches on their performance and have consequently mustered up a second wind that will carry them through the Big West meet, into regionals and over the hurdle to the NCAA Championships.
The Big West Conference Championships will take place here at UCI on May 12-15.
The conference meet has stirred an array of expectations for the meet. This year has been a breakout season for both the men’s and women’s teams. Especially noteworthy is the men’s success.
‘All we need to do is translate what we do in practice to the meet, and go out there and run without over-thinking, and we will come out on top,’ said Associate Head Coach Ben Cesar.
The men’s team is currently ranked third in the conference going into the meet. With juniors Omar Lopez, Curtis Lehmann and senior Elias Moreno in the sprints, junior Scott Jarvis, freshman Dayne Comrie in the hurdles and, last but certainly not least, the muscle of the team, senior John J. Stein, sophomore Brian Moon and graduate student Derek Kingrey in the throws, Irvine brings the bulk of the competition to the meet.
‘I’m currently ranked number one in conference. I’m going out there to do what I have to do and as long as I take care of myself, then the rest will come,’ Kingrey said.
While some schools will battle out animosities on the track, some of the biggest threats to the men’s team are each other.
‘Utah State red-shirted a lot of people this year so we haven’t [seen] much out of them as a hurdle rival school, so I’d have to say that between myself and [Comrie], we are each other’s biggest threat. We are great friends. This will push us both to be better,’ Jarvis said.
The women’s team has a lot more to think about going into the meet. Though there has been a stream of successes individually, as a team they will have to pull all of their strength together to be the victors at conference.
‘On the women’s side, Randy Houston is ready to compete. In practice, she has been doing very well,’ Cesar said. ‘Jessica Crow has also been practicing well. She’s doing things on the track that I’ve always felt and thought she could do all along.’
This year, Irvine has made some additions to its jumps team. Freshman pole vaulter Kirsten Loftin, freshmen high jumper/sprinter Orlisha Henlon and long jumper/sprinter Katherina Dawkins, not to mention junior transfer Kim Harper who high jumps as well