Former owner of the Oakland Athletics’ major league baseball team Charlie Finley once said, “sweat plus tears equals success,” and the Millersville track team distance runners have found that to be true.
In order to embrace the lifestyle of a distance runner the athletes have had to be willing to make sacrifices in order to improve.
These sacrifices include eating better, cutting back or eliminating alcohol intake, sleeping well and running lots of miles early Sunday mornings.
“The commitment level to training is what has set this year’s group apart from groups from the past few years. This group of athletes really wants to improve and I have seen a lot of blood, sweat and tears this year,” said Distance Coach Andy Young.
“I tell them consistency over time is the key and many of the athletes are reaping the rewards.”
This past weekend senior Priscilla Jennings basked in the rewards as she broke a school record in the 800-meter run, qualifying her for the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships.
Jennings was victorious over Kutztown’s Jo Horstmann by five seconds at the Susquehanna Open on Saturday with a time of 2:12.75, kicking her old time of 2:14.89 to the curb.
Before this race, Jennings had provisionally qualified for the NCAA Championship but this past weekend her time guaranteed her place in the event.
“Her NCAA automatic qualifying time of 2:12.75 in the 800-meters was very impressive last weekend.
“What made it more impressive was that she did it all by herself as all the other competitors fell off the pace in the first 50 meters,” Young said.
After a cross country season that was a bit disappointing, Jennings continued to work hard and stick to her training routines.
“This year her cross country season did not end the way she wanted it to and later we discovered that her iron levels were low for a distance runner,” said Head Coach Scott Weiser.
“She overcame that and has been on an up slope since mid-January without really doing a lot of speed work. There are bigger things to come from Priscilla Jennings.”
Distance runners need iron to help carry oxygen in the blood and for a distance runner a lack of iron can cause the runner to feel tired all the time and not have the energy to finish the race like they need to have.
Eventually it can have psychological effects on motivation.
Jennings recovered and doubled up on workouts and put forth time to get her back to where she needed to be during the indoor season.
“‘Phenomenal’ is how I describe what has happened with Priscilla Jennings,” Young said.
“She has a lot of God-given talent but what sets her apart is what she has chosen to do with it, which is work hard everyday. She is a pleasure to coach because of her attitude and work ethic.”
Young can see Jennings having the ability to run at a professional level when she is finished with school. Jennings’s track career at Millersville will be over at the end of the cross-country season next fall.
Jennings is not only valuable to the track team because of her ability break records but also for the support she offers to her teammates.
“Priscilla is a very positive and suppotive person and regaurdless of talent we can never have too many of those people on the team,” Weiser said. “Like I said before she trains smart and consistently and that is a great example to the rest of the team.”
Jennings is not the only track athlete with the chance to go to Houston for the NCAA Championship.
The women’s distance medley relay is qualified but needs to run a faster time this coming weekend to secure their spot.
Also Michele Frayne is qualified for the pentathlon but needs to earn a score of over 3500 points this coming weekend to get seeded in the top 10.
Adam Kravatz is four inches away from qualifying in the pole vault and Brendon Thomas is 125 points away from qualifying for the men’s heptathlon.
With the PSAC Indoor Championships taking place this upcoming weekend the athletes have one more shot to qualify for the NCAA Championships.
During the indoor season the athletes responded to the challenges laid out in front of them by their coaches with consistently improving performances.
They won heats and placed in the top five in competitions where they were up against Division I athletes.
“Every year collegiate track and field gets tougher and more competitive and we need to keep up or we will fall behind.
“Throughout the year I have tried to keep the standard of excellence just above where they are at and they have responded well to working toward that standard. We are not there yet, but we are getting closer,” Weiser said.
The PSAC Indoor Championship will take place this Saturday at 1 p.m. at East Stroudsburg.
After Saturdays Championship meet the focus will switch to the outdoor season for those runners not traveling to the NCAA Championship. The team hopes o see results of thier hard work and training during the outdoor season ahead.