by Adam Gonzales
As the University of Arizona cross country team is competing, the track and field team is preparing for their upcoming season with their fall training. The Track Cats are looking to continue the success they had last year. The men’s team finished in sixth place in the indoor season and in 10th place in the outdoor season, while the women finished in seventh in the indoor season and sixth in the outdoor season.
With the women’s cross country team currently at the top of the rankings after winning the 2013 Pac-12 Championships, the Track Cats are starting to get motivated for the season.
“It is really motivating to see the cross country team being number one in the country,” senior heptathlete Amber Passalaqua said. “Coach (Fred) Harvey is always making us strive to the top and always trying to be competitive in the Pac-12.”
In order to be competitive in track and field in the Pac-12, arguably the best conference in the country in sport, athletes have to train early and often. The team is doing just that. Most of the athletes took some time off during the summer, but then got right back to work.
“I did a lot of weight training, cardio and cross training during the summer,” senior sprinter Sean Delfani said. “I took about four weeks off, but in my time off I was getting deep tissue massages and worked on my flexibility.”
In 2014, the Wildcats will add Arizona football offensive lineman Gerhard De Beer from Pretoria, South Africa. He will also compete as a thrower. De Beer hasn’t stopped training since he competed in the World Junior Championships.
“I’ve been training hard since last year after the World Junior Championships because I wanted to break the national record,” De Beer said. I throw three times a week, and my strength and conditioning is all the same in football as it would be for track.”
Fall training is different for every different type of athlete. Traci-Lynn Hicks, a sprinter and hurdler will train differently from Passalaqua, who has to not only train for sprinting and hurdling, but for throwing as well.
“In fall training I’m trying to get back in shape because we’re not in season yet,” Hicks said. “When it is time I can work on my form,” Hicks said.
Passalaqua can sometimes spend up to five hours training a day with assistant coach Sheldon Blockburger, working on her endurance and technique.
“Fall training is a lot of endurance, running and a lot of lifting so you have to be strong,” Passalaqua said. “Endurance-wise, we do a lot of running, so when the season starts it’s not as hard, because you already built that endurance up. On a shorter day, I am there for about three hours. On a longer day, I can be there for five hours, which includes lifting.”
Delfani’s training consists of a lot of running during the offseason. For him, he tries to stay healthy not only physically, but also mentally.
“Fall training consists of higher volume (longer distances), but less intense (not as fast) workouts,” Delfani said. “Technique while running is something that is focused on throughout the season and it takes thousands of seamless repetitions to obtain a perfect running form.”
All of the Track Cats are preparing for the upcoming season and know that they can have a special season after the way they ended last year. They will look to take the Pac-12 championship in the indoor and outdoor seasons, and will compete for a possible national title.
The entire track and field roster is training with one goal in mind: achieving a national title. When they all come together next March, the training and hard work will pay off.