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WSU athletes switch from cross-country to track and field

As spring semester approaches, the 2013 track and field season does as well. Many Weber State University cross-country athletes are also on track and field and are currently making changes in their training to prepare for the upcoming season.

Paul Pilkington, cross-country head coach and track distance coach, said that, in order to train for either sport, athletes run 60-110 miles a week, but training for track and field is much more specific.

“Training includes running, but also lifting weights and getting down speed more, rather than distance,” he said.

Jim Blaisdell, head coach of the women’s track and field team, said the team is coming into the new season looking very strong, and that he is excited for the upcoming year.

“We’ve had a great fall training,” he said.

Blaisdell said the team is going into this season defending its 2012 Big Sky Conference Indoor Championship.

“We’ve filled some gaps where we didn’t have much strength last year,” he said. “We feel good about our team — a good team of young kids and veterans — and then we also have our distance athletes that had an incredible season in cross-country.”

Among those athletes who are on cross-country as well as track and field are seniors Sarah Callister, Taylor Thornley, Laken Hintze and John Coyle, who all received All-Region honors in cross-country’s NCAA championship meet this fall. Senior Amber Henry, also a WSU athlete in both sports, earned All-American honors.

Pilkington was named Mountain Region Women’s Cross-Country Coach of the Year by the United States Track and Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association this fall, and was also named Big Sky Coach of the Year for 2012.

“Right now, we are pretty excited for the group and think they have a lot of potential,” Blaisdell said.

Comparing cross-country to track and field, Coyle said he likes each sport for different reasons. In cross-country, he said, he likes the aspect of a “tight-knit” team that travels, runs and cools down together. He said he enjoys track because he prefers middle-distance running.

Coyle said that, when he was deciding on which university to attend, WSU’s distance program made it a simple decision.

“Weber had, by far, the best distance program of all the schools I visited,” he said.

The longer he has been a runner, he said, the more he has grown to love it.

“When I first started, I wasn’t really into it,” Coyle said. “But as I’ve continued to do it, I’ve been interested in getting to the next level in competition.”

Being a senior athlete in both sports, he said what keeps him motivated to continue in both is self-improvement.

Coyle and the rest of the track and field athletes are preparing for their first meet on Jan. 11 against Idaho State University. Their only home meet will be on Feb. 16. Blaisdell said he would love to see students come out to support it.

“If students want to see a very competitive team battling to keep their Big Sky Conference championship title, they can come see it here at a Weber State track and field meet,” he said.

Blaisdell said on that, in late December, a preseason poll showing WSU’s expected rankings will be posted.

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