Tuesday, June 1, 2010

First Round of the NCAA Championships (East Region) come to a close

Our qualifiers for the 1st round of the 2010 NCAA Championships (L-R)
...Meaghan McGovern (SO)-Hammer Throw,
Dana Guglielmo (FR)-3K Steeple,
Coach Lori Taylor,
Julie Rechel (JR)-10K
and Amy VanAlstine (JR)-5K

Coach Steve Taylor, Luke and Matt Llano (JR)
at the NC A&T Track & Field facility.

The Final Day of Competition

The NCAA Championships East Super Region, known as the 1st round of the NCAA Championships, came to a close on Saturday evening after weather related delays led to postponement of the 3K steeple from Friday night until Saturday morning. Strong lightning storms blasted through Greensboro, NC drenching the area with rain that lasted through most of the night.

Freshman, Dana Guglielmo showing her steeple form
at the NCAA Championships Quarter Finals (East Region)

Dana Guglielmo's 3K steeple

Saturday morning brought clear skies and a little reprieve from the humidity that smothered the area for the previous 2 days. Our Spiders started Saturday with the women’s 3K steeple which was postponed due to the weather Friday evening. Freshman, Dana Guglielmo (Ridge HS, NJ) came into the meet with two of the top 3 times in program history and looked poised to improve upon her season best of 10:36.11 which she ran at the A-10 Championships. Unfortunately for Dana, the long and successful season appeared to catch her as she finished in 11:23.56. Although the result is not what she wanted Dana made tremendous progress during the indoor and outdoor seasons. Since the middle of January she has been consistent…trained hard and shown focus. She has the tools to be very successful by learning from this experience.

Dana's steeple form over the water...

Amy Van Alstine's 5K

As evening came it was time for Junior, Amy Van Alstine (Midland Park HS, NJ) to compete in the 5K. It would be another unfortunate end to a successful season. Amy ran 16:38.58 at the Mt. SAC Relays in Los Angeles earlier this season. She has been plagued by a reoccurring calf issue since her high school days and unfortunately for Amy it reared its ugly head just before the A-10 Championships again this season. She managed it and consistently got treatment but the injury would not subside. Over the two weeks going into the NCAA Regional Meet she mostly cross-trained (Bike/Pool) or ran short and easy. As she began her warm-up for the race on Saturday she let Lori know that it was feeling pretty good but still bothering her a little.

Approaching the 1600M Amy VanAlstine was on the rail
in 2nd position and appeared to be running easily within herself...

Amy was determined to compete and hopeful that it would not be an issue for the 16 minutes of her race. She stepped onto the track to compete and when the race started she put herself in great position…within the top 5 of the race. The pace was reasonable as they went through the opening 1600M in roughly 5:21. Shortly after the 2K we started to notice a slight limp and from there her calf became the issue...digressing throughout the race. She is a tough young woman and although we would have preferred she stop and not risk injuring herself further I can relate to her desire to finish. It’s who she is and is one of the many reasons she is so successful. She simply does not give up.

Shortly after the 2K she started to noticeably limp
from a reoccurring calf injury...

Close of the Meet..and this Coaches Thoughts

As the meet came to a close and Lori and I have had a little time for reflection, we are proud of our athletes and especially excited for Matt Llano and Julie Rechel. Both had excellent races in the 10K. Matt improving upon his 7th best seed to finish 4th and qualify for the NCAA Championship Final next weekend in Eugene, Oregon…Julie came in as the last qualifier in the women’s 10K as the 48th seed…She raced hard and competed throughout to finish 33rd. Meaghan McGovern also improved upon her 48th seed to finish 44th, even though she wanted to throw further.

As I’ve said over the years…Our sport is one that is based on objective performance and as an athlete often outsiders judge you based on their subjective view of your performance. Only you and your coaches know your journey to get there. No matter how much success is achieved, as an athlete you grow and improve by being ambitious and greedy when it comes to your accomplishments. The great ones always want to do better and are rarely satisfied and search for the things they could have done better…Something that is true with athletes at all levels. Nothing exceptional has ever been achieved by complacency and nothing ever sat its way to success... except, as my grandmother pointed out, "a chicken laying an egg". These 5 athletes were on a mission this season and they made sacrifices and decisions that they each needed to make in order to achieve their goals.

“In Discipline the blood boils,
the brain turns to marble
and muscles to steel.
When wrapped in the scalding arms
of the Discipline I cannot rip my eyes
away from the sun.
I feel no pain.
If you know what I mean,
then you know what I mean.”
----Henry Rollins

Again, although we are often judged on the numbers related to performance it has always been the journey that is most important in my opinion. Seeing an athlete choose to make the hard decisions and the right choices, sacrifice along the way and to callous their body through self discipline so that it can endure the intensity and pain associated with intelligent, methodical training and competing are the most important things to me… Some reading this will not understand my reference to ‘pain’ throughout and will read into it some masochistic intent. They miss the point and do not understand and have likely never experienced the intensity it takes to compete at the highest level within athletics. As Rollins said, “If you know what I mean, then you know what I mean.”

Regardless, athletes that make those hard decisions, the right choices and the sacrifices required through self discipline learn that they lead to the discovery of who ~you~ are…the person staring back from the mirror... That person will always be there for you and your family.
Our team members know that I detest mental and physical weakness…These athletes that represented the University of Richmond this past weekend have showed their mental and physical intensity and toughness throughout the track & field season and have my respect…The numbers associated with performance are the avenue used in this sport to test your own limits as an athlete and to break through the mental and physical barriers associated with competition. Once you become indifferent to the pain associated with intelligent, methodical training and compete with your heart you then open yourself to a new scope of possibilities. The unfortunate part is that too often athletes are not willing to make those sacrifices and not willing to endure the work and effort involved with pushing through mental and physical barriers. They give up or quit because they want it to be easy...They back off just about the time they are ready to break through and/or they find they can't look 'the man in the mirror' directly in the eye. That is not the case for these athletes...

The Man in the Glass
by Dale Wimbrow-1934

When you get what you want in your struggle for self,
and the world makes you king for a day,
Just go to the mirror and look and look at yourself,
and see what that man has to say.

For it isn't your father or mother or wife,
who judgment upon you must pass,
For the fellow who's verdict counts most in this life,
is the one staring back from the glass.

Some people may say you're a straight-shootin' chum,
and call you a wonderful guy.
But the man in the glass thinks you're only a bum,
if you can't look him straight in the eye.

He's the fellow to please, never mind all the rest,
for he's with you clear up to the end.
And you've passed your most difficult dangerous test,
if the man in the glass is your friend.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years,
and get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
if you've cheated the man in the glass.

It is no revelation to state 'distance races are painful'. And as Luke said to Matt and Julie on the way to their 10K races last Thursday, "Pain is Good". The personal battles athletes face during a competition are the ‘race within the race’ that observers often do not realize or understand. As a coach it’s obvious when an athlete is testing their personal barriers. When that happens it brings joy to my soul…Seeing the passion in their hollow eyes that are empty... yet filled with specific purpose. It's a look that is unmistakable and cannot be faked.

Our goal is to have athletes ready for the day of competition so the things they have faced in the training process prepare them for the intensity they will experience on race day…thus providing them with the venue and avenue to break through barriers and to break the will of their competition. We guide the motivated athlete and help direct their intensity on their goals. If there is no passion and no intensity...then there is no hope of success. The mental and physical must work in harmony with each other…and athletes should never take their eyes off the journey to focus solely on the outcome of performance. The experiences from this journey will stay with them for their lifetime and will ultimately be drawn upon as they have their own families, personal relationships and professional jobs.

Lori and I are proud of these 5 athletes…and look forward to their continued growth and progression. It is the beginning and the infinite start to their personal journey to discover who they are and to remember their personal roots...Some wish for success as they try to convince themselves they are doing all they can, while others are determined to go take the success they wish for because they know it will not be given to them. Your athletic dream is also your competitors dream… You must be willing to do everything, including the little things that will ultimately become insurmountable for your competition. For those busy achieving, 'the look' in your piercing eyes during training and competition always shows the truth.


Spiders Bring NCAA East Region Championship To A Close Saturday

by Mike DeGeorge
Richmond SID

May 30, 2010

GREENSBORO, N.C. - The Richmond track & field brought the 2010 NCAA East Region Championship to a close Saturday in Greensboro, N.C. as freshman Dana Guglielmo finished 46th in the 3,000m steeplechase and junior Amy Van Alstine was 48th in the 5,000m.

After having the race postponed Friday night by severe thunderstorms, Guglielmo went off Saturday morning and posted a time of 11:23.56, which was good for 46th place.

"It's been a long and successful season for Dana," said women's head coach Lori Taylor. "Earlier this season she achieved one of the fastest steeple times by a freshmen in 2010. Although she is not pleased today, she has much to be proud of this season."

For Van Alstine, the junior had a calf injury flare up mid-race, which forced her to limp to the finish line in a time of 18:57.67. It was well off the 16:38.58 season-best time she posted earlier this season that had her 38th in the East Region.

The Spiders' track & field season is complete for all but junior Matt Llano, who will compete in two weeks for an NCAA National Championship in the 10,000m. He earned the NCAA finals berth thanks to his fourth-place finish Thursday night.

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