VCU women’s track and field team looks to repeat as indoor Atlantic 10 champions

VCU women’s track sprinters freshman Kayelyn Tate and junior Lauryn Taylor during a meet. Photo courtesy of VCU Athletics, taken by Matt Reynolds

Andrew McGhan, Contributing Writer

The VCU women’s track and field team are set to defend their Atlantic 10 indoor championship on Feb. 25 and 26.

The goal for both the men’s and women’s teams is to be champions at the end of each season, according to head coach Jon Riley. The team has to overcome injuries and setbacks in order to reach their goal.

The team did not win the outdoor championship last season and they plan to start off this season with another indoor title, according to Riley.

The team is hungry to try and win the A-10 indoor championship, according to graduate student hurdler Symone Foster.

“It’s just about showing up that day and performing, so that’s what we’re focused on,” Foster said.

The team’s drive comes from pushing and holding each other accountable every day at practice, according to senior hurdler Lauryn Freeman.

“We just make sure that we’re all lifted up and we remember the legacy that we want to leave behind after we graduate or move on to other endeavors,” Freeman said. 

With VCU having a long successful history in the A-10 conference, players strive to continue that success and to show why they’re the best in the conference, according to Foster.

The team feels that they have a target on their back as defending A-10 champions, however they are just focused on themselves, according to Foster.

“I know as a team, we’re just focused on ourselves and just doing what we have to do and everything else will take care of itself,” Foster said.

The pressure of being the best is nothing new to the team, according to Freeman.

“We’re used to the pressure, we don’t fold under pressure,” Freeman said.

Riley understands that players can’t only have track on their mind, that’s how they start to burn out, according to Freeman. Riley tells his players to find healthy hobbies to keep their minds fresh for practice and meets, Freeman said.

Riley also tells his players to limit distractions the best they can so by the time championship week rolls around they are prepared and ready to do their best, according to Foster.

“What you do off the track definitely reflects what you do on the track, so he tries to keep us healthy on and off the track,” Freeman said.

In order to keep the team locked in and continue to be successful, the team must succeed in three set goals each season, according to Riley. These set goals are repeated consistently throughout the season by Riley and the rest of the staff. 

“In advertising, they say if you hear things at least three times you’re more likely to remember it,” Riley said. “Well, I said 100 times.”

The first goal set is to do as many community services and have the most community service hours in the department. The second goal for the team is to average a 3.3 GPA. The final goal is to win the indoor and outdoor championships, according to Riley.

“All of the coaches communicate the same thing,” Riley said. 

The whole team is going to have stand out performances, according to Riley. The message Riley sends to the team is to be themselves on a consistent basis.

“My message to my team is go out and attempt your season’s best and that’s all you need to do. Don’t try to go out there and be a hero and win the meet by yourself,” Riley said. 

The upperclassmen on the team are very confident coming into the A-10 championship, according to Freeman. The upperclassmen try to make sure that the lowerclassmen on the team feels confident in their abilities and the work they put in all season.

“I just believe in this group, there’s something special about this group,” Riley said. “We’ve done a lot of good things throughout the season.”

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