With the changing of the seasons comes a changing of scenery. This is the case for the East Carolina University track and field team as the winter season comes to an end and the spring season begins.
As the indoor track season ends and the Pirates get ready for its last meet of the year in the American Athletic Conference Championships, they have had a lot of success leading up to this meet.
“I am a tougher grader, I don’t like giving out easy grades,” head coach Curt Kraft said. “But how can I be not satisfied when we set school records, we had numerous personal bests, we have kids who are ranked high on the American Athletic Conference lists, and we have kids ranked high in the NCAA. So overall I think it was a pretty good indoor season.”
ECU had a strong season, particularly the meets at Penn State University and its first meet at Virginia Tech University. At the Penn State Meet, eight Personal Records (PRs) were set, and 17 were set at Virginia Tech. At Penn State junior Bria Stith set the school record for the Pentathlon, and senior Nick Ciaccia set the school record in the 5k.
“I am very impressed with this indoor season,” senior Grace Sullivan said. “I feel each event group has stepped up in comparison to last year. We are supporting one another and are really developing as a team.”
The team did benefit from the warm winter Greenville has experienced. Even though it was the indoor track season ECU doesn’t have any indoor track and field facilities, so the team still has to practice outside in virtually any conditions.
Despite a lot of praise, there were some negatives throughout the season. There were injuries hindering some success early on some, such as Sullivan not getting to compete until almost halfway through the year.
“In our sport and I think we coaches are just as guilty as the players are, you go into these meets and you like to think that we are gonna get better and better as we go on throughout the season. Obviously in theory that would be ideal but we don’t live in an ideal world. So it would have been nice to improve some more as the season went on,” Kraft said. “It would have been nice to see some more gradual improvement but it is what it is and now it is time to move on and let the chips fall where they may.”
To help motivate the team this year the “PR chain” was introduced. The PR chain is an ECU chain that an athlete would wear if they set a personal record.
“I think adding the PR chain and an Undaunted spirit stick has added a little more fun this year,” grad student Dante Yarborough said. “Even though the team isn’t as big as usual everyone is closer and shows more support than the last couple of years. With small numbers, everyone is just tighter at the track which helps.”
The team is now looking forward to being able to compete against the best the conference has to offer as the AAC championships is set to begin Feb. 22 and go through Feb. 23.