Women head to South Bend

By Regina Spachner

Despite women’s track and field’s undefeated home record, head coach Gary Winckler is ready to take his team on the road.

“Home field advantage is not as big of a deal in our sport as it is in others,” Winckler said. “Our girls need to go on the road and adjust to travel and different tracks.”

The Illini will head to South Bend, Ind., tomorrow with three successful meets under their belts, capturing two team titles and numerous personal records. The team’s most recent stellar home performance came last weekend at the Carle Health Alliance Classic. Illinois took first place, defeating both Georgia and Syracuse.

The team competes tomorrow at the Meyo Invitational hosted by Notre Dame. This will be Illinois’ fourth-consecutive meet of the season and Notre Dame’s third successive home meet.

“We’re training really hard and not really resting before each meet,” Winckler said. “We’re tired, but competing well.”

Approaching this forth meet, the team has adjusted to the difficulties that runners face when competing indoors.

“We didn’t push hard, so the girls could get used to it,” Winckler said. “By the middle of February they will be fully adjusted.”

According to Winckler, two obstacles athletes face while racing indoors are the tight turns on the track and the dry air in the facilities. The sharp turns on the indoor track can cause injuries and the dryness of the air leads to bronchial irritation and colds.

Junior Natalie Young said runners adjust mentally when competing on an indoor track.

“I think about each lap separately,” Young said. “The 800m run is harder because it is four laps instead of two like it is outdoors. Physically it’s not any different, but it takes a mental toll on you.”

Aside from these difficulties and adjustments, the women are focused on establishing top performances at this weekend’s road meet.

“At this point, I prefer to compete away,” said junior Nina Henson. “I train six days a week at the Armory and then compete in the same place on the weekends. I think I perform better when I’m away.”