By Alyssa Grevenkamp
While basketball tends to be the sport in the spotlight in the winter months, the upcoming spring sports are often over looked. For the last few weeks, the University of Findlay’s track teams have been nationally ranked.
As of press time, the University of Findlay’s men’s track team is ranked third in the nation while the women’s team is ranked 15 in the nation. The men’s team was ranked first a week ago, but recently dropped after a meet in Boston.
According to head coach Marc Arce, success breeds success, meaning that the track team has always been a good program.
“I always have goals for them to reach throughout the season,” said Arce. “I always want us to qualify as many as we can for nationals and that’s the goal every year. Building on that goal from year to year helps our program build year to year as well. I try to make my way around and not just focus on the sprinters or the throwers, but try to be there for every athlete and I think that is a factor as well.”
Not only has the coaching staff been pushing track athletes to be their best, but the athletes themselves have also made the environment a more competitive one this season.
“As a team, from the youngest freshman to the oldest seniors, we push each other every day in practice to make each other the best we can be, and that in itself leads to success,” said Jake Miller, senior track and field athlete. “I get to see on a daily basis how each athlete interacts with his or her teammates and I can tell you that the competitive atmosphere does not stop once we leave a meet. Competing against our teammates is what has driven a lot of our success and that is caused by a coaching staff that knows how to create that environment.”
The Oiler men have 33 athletes on their roster while the women have 36. According to Arce, one of the reasons the women have been successful this year is because of their depth.
“The women are lucky because they have more depth than the men do. We’ve had some injuries with them, but they are starting to come back from those injuries and are competing well,” said Arce.
Even dealing with the injuries, the women’s team still looks up to the men’s team and wants to be just as good, if not better than them.
“Our team wants to be just as successful as the men’s team,” said Lydia Guagenti, junior track and field athlete. “We could be as good or even better than them, but injuries have prevented us from doing that up to this point.”
Both teams are competing well right now. There are times where it can be hard to stay at the top, though.
Being ranked isn’t new for the Oilers. What they have to get used to is having a target on their backs when they are competing against other teams.
“It does put a target on your back when you’re competing because you are the number one team in the nation and everyone else is coming after you. There’s some added pressure, but the good news for our teams is this is nothing new to them. They’ve been ranked before and they have some experience to help them out, too,” said Arce.
Experience is one key for the Oilers. According to Coach Arce, both teams are hardworking, encouraging and determined this year to achieve their goals.
“Coach Arce has been motivating us all season long. He has helped us fuel our fire to want to win a national championship. He doesn’t yell or get on us constantly. He takes time out to individually talk to us and work with us. We as a team have each other’s’ backs and are always encouraging each other,” said Guegenti.
As the Oilers start gearing up for their two big meets, GLIAC’s and nationals, Miller says there is one thing that everyone should keep in mind about the Oilers: they have been able to keep their composure when being in difficult situations and are determined to get a championship under their belt.
“We have been ranked number one and now near the top of the rankings and that speaks volumes to just how strong we are as a team. A team can be ranked all year but if they don’t perform up to those standards when it counts, there is no reward. I can assure you, we are hungry for a national championship,” said Miller.