The Collegian
Thursday, May 19, 2022

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Peaking in the premier season

The Fred Hardy Invitational kicked off Richmond's outdoor track and field season on March 25 and 26 at home in the E. Claiborne Robins Stadium.

Senior distance runner Jenn Ennis said: "A lot of meet records and school records were broken as well as a lot of individual wins from our athletes. It was a great weekend for us."

The team finished the invitational with a total of nine wins in individual events. Senior distance runner Andrew Benford placed first in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase Friday.

"It's special for us because it's our only home meet of the season," Benford said.

He said he unfortunately anticipated a small crowd because the meet started Friday, at the same time the Richmond men's basketball team played its Sweet 16 game.

"It was really exciting for us to be able to hold the Fred Hardy Invitational on our campus this year," Ennis said. "Last time we had it on campus was 2008. Many of us on the team are fifth-year-seniors, so we aren't coming back next year. So it was an amazing experience to run in our brand new stadium for the last time and represent our school."

It was not a great source of stress and pressure for the team because the invitational was so early in the season, Benford said. "The main focus is the conference meet in May," he said.

Assistant coach Jon Molz said that because the team aimed to peak in May and June, the training was constantly intense from January to April, even before competitions. "Although we want the athletes to compete well all year, we need to prepare to compete at the highest level during championship season at the end of the year," Molz said.

Benford said the indoor season just ended with a conference meet at the end of February. The indoor season served as a continuous training period interspersed with races, he said. "But in outdoor, especially towards the end is when we start to lower our volume and really start to increase our intensity and we start to peak, and to work on getting faster," he said.

Ennis said there was no real transition between the indoor and outdoor seasons. Indoor track is a training period while outdoor track is a season for fine-tuning speed, she said.

Benford said men's and women's track was different from other sports because it was so individualized with the various events. "All the meets have men's and women's events together," he said. "And we don't all go to the same meets, but for the most part we have the same schedule."

Unlike other varsity sports on campus, the men's and women's track and field teams also train and practice together, Benford said.

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"Track is a very individualized sport so it takes a more conscious effort than other teams to maintain a team-oriented atmosphere," Ennis said. "We break up into small groups based on the events we run, and run workouts together."

Benford said the team typically lifted two times per week. Other forms of cross-training are usually reserved for injured athletes, who may cycle, swim or use the elliptical during recovery, he said.

Of the team makeup, Benford said: "We usually just are very distance heavy. It's carried over from our cross country team, and we have a couple people doing field events, a couple mid-distance and sprinters. And we try to get some guys from the football team to come and help with sprinting and throwing."

The team's goal is to place in the top five or six spots in the conference, Benford said. Personal ambitions such as placing as a conference champion and as an All-American are pursued as well, he said.

Molz said: "I think that on both the men's and women's side, right now we have some of the brightest talent that we have had in many, many years. We have multiple people on each side with realistic chances of earning All-American honors this spring."

The next meet is April 1 in Williamsburg, Va.

Contact staff writer Katie Toussaint at katie.toussaint@richmond.edu

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