As the VCU track and field season is comes to an end, seniors Ryan Coles and Brandon Ruffin are prepared for the final heaves of their collegiate career.
Both seniors have experienced the highs and lows of the sport, but there dedication to their craft never wavered. With the personal desire to succeed, both seniors insisted on training being the cornerstone for the team to reach their goals as a unit.
“We can’t really throw for a number, we can only compete,” Coles said.
Coles, Ruffin and the men’s and women’s track and field teams now look to May 3 when both travel to Fairfax, Virginia to compete in the Atlantic 10 championship. Finishing fourth overall last year, a first place finish for the women’s and a third place finish for the men’s team in the A-10 indoor championship shows promise. One event that remains as strong for the Rams as it has for the past four years is throwing..
The past four years, the senior duo have thrown for impressive numbers, setting and breaking records. Coles, mostly skilled in the discus throw, set a personal and VCU record with a 52.58-meter throw this season. Moreover, Coles holds the record for discuss in both indoor and outdoor.
Coles, a New Kent High School product began his track career as a means of staying in shape during football offseason. A three-sport athlete, Coles was named to the All-State discuss team twice and was named to the All-State discus indoor team.
Ruffin also has a history in football. Ruffin attended Oscar Smith High School, located in Chesapeake, Virginia, playing as a defensive lineman. Ruffin was awarded the outstanding defensive lineman award in 2011 and he was also awarded All-State, All-Region and All-District honors in high school.
Both Ruffin and Coles have expressed the desire to not only perform well in the A-10 championship, but to set themselves up for a run at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
“Conference is when you want to be crisp for the later meets,” Coles said.
The Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athlete of America (IC4A) precedes the A-10 championship and is the meet both emphasized improving on. The “last chance qualifier meet” as the duo states, offers better competition in the field. For Ruffin, he said he believes this year it will be just as hard as last to reach the ultimate goal in college track and field.
“It’s tough when your best throw puts you in that position, in the last few years the talent has risen exponentially,” Ruffin said. “Our freshman year it was 57 feet (discus throw), now you have to be consistently over 60 feet.”
Getting over his sophomore slump after a promising freshman year, Ruffin knew his junior year was the time him and Coles were ready to compete to win every meet.
“Penn State meet junior year was our third meet indoors and we started making strides and we knew things were coming together,” Ruffin said.
Going into the final stretch of the season, VCU’s dynamic throwers are poised to end their senior campaigns on a high note. Ruffin chose “journey” and Coles chose “interesting” to describe their collegiate careers, though both men are not ready for the end just yet.
Coles believes an extended postseason run is a possibility.
“We have to focus,” Coles said. “Not just thinking it rather than just going out and doing it.”