Colleen Slattery, Sports Editor
It’s seven o’clock on a Dallas morning, and outside of the Maher Sports Center, a bus is slowly beginning to fill with the University of Dallas track and field teams. Bleary-eyed, they stumble into the interior of the bus and collapse into seats, promptly falling asleep for the three-hour bus ride to Abilene, Texas.
Despite the early start, however, the athletes woke up fresh and ready to compete in the sweltering spring heat at the Hardin-Simmons Invitational this past Saturday, April 12.
The meet was smaller than those the Crusaders were accustomed to, with the field consisting almost entirely of Division III teams: Hardin-Simmons University, McMurry University, Texas Wesleyan, East Texas Baptist University, Texas College, Ranger College and Northwood University.
Throughout the day, the skies changed from clear and sunny, with temperatures hovering around 90 degrees in the morning, to a mercifully cloudy afternoon. As the Crusaders left the red rubber track at the end of the day, they were filled with a sense of accomplishment; the day was a chance for UD to compete against teams of its own caliber in preparation for the upcoming Conference meet.
The meet began with the steeplechase, a 3,000-meter course with six hurdles per lap, one of which is a water jump. Freshman Kevin Doherty, in his debut race as a steeplechaser, took to the course with what appeared to be a quiet confidence and took third place overall with a time of 10:56.
When asked about his experience, he said, “Well, it was definitely a different race! I felt more prepared for the hurdles than for how hard the whole race was. It was nice because everyone was congratulating me about my third place finish, but I feel like I have a lot of improvement to make. I know I should be at least a minute faster than what I ran.”
On the women’s side, freshman Lizzie Depew competed in both the 100- and 400-meter hurdles, taking second place in both events.
When asked about her methods of preparation for the grueling task of running both of the hurdling events in one meet, she commented: “I do hurdling drills and practice jumps almost daily to prepare. I try not to be scared of the hurdles; they are intimidating, but I try to come into every race with a tough mindset. I think I did all right today but not as well as I would like to. I want to get in the top three in conference for either the 100s or the 400s. Running in college is a lot different than high school because it’s the 300-meter hurdles in high school, but I am starting to get used to the longer distance. And I feel confident that I can improve.”
The overall impression one gets from talking with any of the Crusaders is that they are driven to continually become better, stronger athletes. From the freshmen to the veterans, the track and field teams demonstrate an incredible work ethic. The women finished second overall in the meet, while the men took fifth place. Next week the Crusaders will compete at the Texas A&M-Commerce University Lion Invite. As the season comes to a close, the pressure is strong for times to drop and jumps and throws to increase — and our athletes are ready to make that happen.