This past weekend on May 4, the Viking’s track and field team hosted their only home invitational of the season, and they came to compete and get better in preparation for conference. Because this is the only home meet of the season, it also served as the team’s senior day. The team honored six seniors at noon on Saturday between events. Each senior has brought pride to the Lawrence track and field team over their careers, and each individual has shown skill in their given events and earned their team points.
Senior Brielle Petit had a major personal record in the hammer throw this last weekend. She said, “This week I definitely improved in the hammer throw. I PR’d by 1.71m (a little over 5ft) which is a good distance longer to get second place at the meet.” Many people don’t fully comprehend this accomplishment. 1.71 meters PR is a giant jump in performance, and it sets Petit up well for a great conference performance this coming weekend. “The meet went well,” said Head Coach Jason Fast. “The weather was great and we had a number of great performances. Our throwers Brielle, Tobin [Carlson]and Sara [Klemme] had amazing performances across all events they participated in. [I’m] so proud of that group!” Commenting further on the weekend, Petit said, “At the home meet this past weekend, I was in three events: hammer throw, discus and shot put. I’ve been doing shot put and discus since high school, so I’ve definitely had less time to learn hammer compared to the other two. I think while here at Lawrence, I’ve preferred doing hammer, as it’s not offered at the high school level and it’s so different from the other outdoor throwing events. However, being able to do all the events is very fun and something I really like to do.”
Much like the other spring sports, the track and field team always has to battle the weather. “I think some of the most difficult things about outdoor track meets specifically are timing of events and the weather,” said Petit. “Being in Wisconsin and honestly, the Midwest in general, the spring weather is always changing. Before this home meet, the entire team was really performing in either cold weather or rain. It can get draining sometimes, but I think we as a team have really made it our goal to come together and push past that barrier.” Fortunately for Lawrence, their home meet lined up well with some good weather. “I definitely think that the home meet was a great meet to have right before coming into conference, as the nice weather helped many people get PR’s,” Petit commented. The good weather brought more than just better performing conditions, it also allowed people from Lawrence to attend and support their fellow Vikings. “I have loved our home meets in the past and this year,” Petit said. “It’s exciting because normally we travel a good distance from campus, and that makes it hard for people to come watch and cheer on our team. Having the support from people on campus, alumni and people from the community creates a more exciting atmosphere to compete in.”
As Petit is a senior, there is a lot to reflect on when thinking about her career. Regarding that, Petit said, “I participated in track and field all throughout high school and here at Lawrence starting my sophomore year. Entering Lawrence, I missed that team aspect, so I joined [track and field] my sophomore year. Through the team, I have met so many wonderful people not only on the team but at other schools as well. While track can seem very individualized, all of us on the team really have similar goals, and it’s great to see everyone practice, grow and then reach those goals. I think that’s one of the best parts of being on the team. Even if you don’t understand someone’s event, you can still see the progress and growth that everyone has gone through.”
As seasons wrap up and those closing out their college careers start to really look at their next steps, many like to thank athletics for helping make them who they are. Petit commented, “I think things like time management come into play, not only with getting class work done, but also managing getting around a track meet, when to warm up and things like that. These skills have transferred into making sure homework is getting done, studying with the team and managing a pretty busy schedule. I have learned how to pick and choose what I’m doing with my time; as we all know, Lawrence can get pretty busy. Through being part of the team, I’ve learned not to take myself too seriously and to not place myself under more pressure than I can handle. I’ve become more aware of my boundaries and knowing when I am getting in my own head, especially at meets. As I’m graduating soon, I’m going to miss being able to see my team almost every day, especially the jokes that the throwing team has, but I know they’re going to continue to do great things!”
The success of this team is present throughout the program. Coach Fast said, “All of our freshmen have made tremendous growth both as individuals and athletes this year. I’m so proud of our rookies for really buying into what we are doing and following through. Our seniors, Molly [Doruska], Brielle and Tobin [Carlson], on the women’s team are great examples of what we do as a program. All of those three were bottom of the conference in their first year and now they are all in contention to be top eight in their respective events. They never stopped working hard and are very coachable. They all have a great dedication to their craft. Senior Josh Janusiak has had a pretty great career too. He’s always giving it his all in everything he does, and it’s the secret to his consistency and greatness. He will forever be known as one of the all-time greatest student-athletes ever to call themselves a Viking.”
While certain individuals tend to stand out with their placement in their events, track and field is definitely a team sport. Everyone is individually excited about being a part of this team sport and being able to be successful for the sake of their team’s overall performance. It is fun to compete, and it’s fun to coach. “I coach because I love the sport and I want to provide our student-athletes with a great experience similar to my own,” said Coach Fast.
The Vikings gear up for their conference meet this weekend, May 10 and 11. The home meet, with beautiful weather and strong support from their peers, has boosted the team’s energy and helped refuel them as they head off to compete. Good luck track and field Vikings!