The ‘good wolf’ prevails at the track and field conference championships

Alex Geli
Assoc. Sports Editor

In an age-old Cherokee legend, a boy is talking to his grandfather, debating whether a “good” or “bad” wolf will win the fight inside of him. He can either choose to let the good wolf, full of benevolence and generosity, or the bad wolf, seething with hatred and pomposity, take over his body. Flummoxed by this juxtaposition, he queries his wise grandfather: “Which wolf will in?” To this, the grandfather responds, “The one you feed.”

Millersville’s track and field took this legend and ran with it: “Feed the good wolf,” coach Andy Young would insist to his athletes. Last weekend at the PSAC Championships, held at the Gerhard Field House in Lewisburg, Pa., the Marauders, indeed, fed the good wolf.

With 47 points, Millersville’s indoor team performed its best outing in the PSACs since 2008. The club amassed eight All-PSAC honors, four top-three finishes as well as eclipsing a school record in their sixth place overall finish.

Redshirt junior Erin Mason has topped off her final indoor season with a grand performance.
Redshirt junior Erin Mason has topped off her final indoor season with a grand performance.

“We try, as coaches, to keep things as interesting and fresh as we can … keep them as inspired as we can,” Young said, alluding to the Cherokee legend. “And that one just clicked with them.”

Among the most inspired were 4×400 relay runners Megan Meyer, Erin Mason, Erin Madison and Kayla Naughton, as they ended up in second place on Sunday’s finals. Not only did they achieve an NCAA Provisional time of 3:55.60, but they broke their own Millersville record.

“It was great race,” Young said. “It went back and forth quite a bit.” Describing the feelings as a coach during those tense moments, Young described, “Your emotions go back and forth … it’s hard as a coach, but it’s fun when you have that result.” In fact, talking about the reaction of the assistant coach who focuses on the sprinting events, Akil Stokes, “He was pretty pumped up and very animated,” Young added, recalling the sight with a chuckle.

As far as the players during those adrenaline-filled moments during a competition, Young says nerves are completely fine, but, as the legend goes, it depends on which feeling you let overcome you: anxiety or confidence.

“If you’re nervous, that’s normal,” Young said. “But you don’t want to go too far with it. Nerves at a competition mean that you’re nervous about failing.”

Mason, a redshirt junior who will be graduating at the end of this semester, continued her success in the 200-meter dash. She earned an All-PSAC honor as she passed the finish line in 25.69. Her time nearly trumped her second school record of the conference championship; however, it put her final notch in her indoor belt with the second best time in Millersville history and third best in the competitive field on Sunday.

“Erin [Mason] pretty much had a kickass meet,” Young stated.

Kiara Allen, who was part of the 4×400 last week and nearly rocketed past the record at the Susquehanna Open, didn’t make it past qualifiers on day one; however, on day two, she participated in the 60-meter dash and ended up with an NCAA provisional time. The sophomore achieved her first All-PSAC time with her result of 7.96. Her time landed her in second place—and made Millersville history in the process.

It was the first time for any Marauder to achieve an All-PSAC time in a short distance sprint for 10 years, since Christina Carpenter did in 2004.

“My mindset was just run my race and, no matter what happened, I was going to be satisfied with whatever I got,” Allen said, albeit conceding, “Breaking the record would’ve been nice.”

But, just like the entire track and field team, consisting of a mere four seniors, her collegiate career is still budding.

“I also think to myself, ‘I’m just a sophomore,’” said Allen. As a freshman the previous year, she placed fifth. “As long as I’m improving and I’m getting better, then I’m always satisfied with that.”

While juggling her strident competitive zeal and the excitement from her improvements, Allen is left with a decision to make.

Sophomore Kiara Allen looks to continue her impressive improvements in the outdoor season later this month.
Sophomore Kiara Allen looks to continue her impressive improvements in the outdoor season later this month.

Feeding the bad wolf: “I was kind of bummed out,” Allen said. Hurling her upper body forward just wasn’t enough to achieve her ideal time.

Feeding the good wolf: After the time registered in her brain, she saw assistant coach Stokes and her body became infused with warm, gooey satisfaction as she hugged her sprinting guru and thought, “From going to last year to this year is like a complete 180. My hard work is finally paying off.”

Mason also continued her solid performance in the same race with a time of 7.96, inserting her into sixth place.

Freshman Arianna Camel, or “Cobra,” as her teammates have dubbed her, was .04 seconds away from being yet another All-PSAC time-clincher with her time of 9.11. As she placed fourth, Madison also competed and landed in seventh place with her 9.21.

Madison finished up her busy weekend in the 400-meter dash, which she landed an All-PSAC time last year in the championships. Although not an all-conference number this go-round, her time of 58.48 solidified herself in sixth place. Sophomore Kayla Naughton slipped by her teammate by one spot, landing in fifth with a 58.10 time.

In the 800-meter run, Elementary and Special Education major Brittney Martin usurped her season-best time, as she finished in 2:20.93 and seventh place.

Just like that, the Black and Gold were finished with the indoor track and field season.

Or is it?

With the NCAA provisional times by the 4×400 foursome and Allen in the 60-meter dash, they are at the whim of the selection committee, which will decide the fate of the five ladies’ indoor season. But, as coach Young explained, it’s not looking too promising.

He recalled the 4×400 team being 26th in the nation and Allen 32nd.  On relays, it’s “typically” the top 12 who are chosen to further their season at the NCAA Indoor Championships later in the month; for individuals, the magic number is usually 18, according to the head coach.

But, as Young explained, “The ultimate end-goal for us is to get ready for the outdoor track and field season.” Because of the lack of an indoor facility to practice in—and while there’s more ice and snow than actual track visible outside—“We’ve kind of been looking at the bigger picture,” Young admitted.

While the snow on the tracks are finally melting and the weather may hit the upper-40-mark this weekend, it seems like a pristine time to transition into the outdoor season, which starts at the Shamrock Invitational at the vacation hotspot, Myrtle Beach, S.C., during the weekend of March 21-22.