Catawba Track and Field Prepares for Championship SeasonDavis Cuffe April 29, 2023 0 COMMENTS
After training through summer, fall, and winter championship season is finally upon Catawba track and field. Following a nationals appearance for women’s cross country and top five team finishes for both men and women at their conference meet during indoor track these runners are primed for success as their season closes out. While the roster is full of talent, here are some athletes that could really make a splash in their upcoming championship meets:
Although Raina may have been labeled as an 800m specialist by her competition after winning the indoor 800m conference championship this last year and winning the outdoor 800m championship in 2022 Raina has serious range. During cross country this year Raina was injured for a large portion of the season and could only race in four meets but made a huge impact in those four. Raina finished fourth in the 6k in the southeast regional championship and was a huge reason as to why the women’s cross-country squad was able to make it to nationals. Now in May Raina currently ranks 30th in all of D2 for the 800m and is only seconds away from qualifying for another nationals appearance. When asked about what it would take to propel her to nationals in her upcoming races Raina stated that: “Being able to get out first lap really hot and just closing with everything I got” would be the strategy for her success. Be sure to look out for Raina running the 1500 800 double at Catawba’s conference championship this week. In Raina’s words, she is “in it to win it” in any event she enters so hopefully she pulls home another conference championship.
A senior at Catawba Barja will look to go out with gold in his last races for Catawba. Barja placed fifth at last year’s outdoor track championships with a time of 21.74 in the 200 and has taken over half a second off that time this year when he ran 21.16 last weekend. While Barja will be racing the 200m at the conference championship he has had success with every event he stepped in and said that “I look at myself as an all-around sprinter so 100 to the 400 I believe I’m capable of running qualifying times”. Although Barja is currently ranked 6th in the 200m in the conference he ran that time only a week removed from a hamstring injury meaning we may only be scratching the surface of Barja’s 200m success this year.
Catawba’s 2023 male athlete of the year Erick has been dominant running this season. The indoor conference champion in the 5k and a national qualifier. Erick has his sights on continuing his success this outdoor season. When asked about his goals for the rest of the season Erick said he wants to get “top three in the 5k and 1500”. Erick added that he also is looking to add to his growing collection of school records, after capturing the mile, 3k, 5k, and DMR school record during indoor track he looks to attack the 1500 school record and run under 3:50. He said that the process for achieving these goals is to “stay healthy and continue what he’s been doing”. Considering all Erick has been doing this season is winning continuing that will surely end in success come championship season.
After placing second last year at outdoor conference Skylar Payne is racing for gold as the season winds down. One of the most successful hurdlers in Catawba history Skylar holds the record in the 400m hurdles and 4x400m relay but hasn’t yet captured an individual title. During our interview I labeled her second-place finish last year as a “bad memory” but she rebutted that stating “I am setting my mind to get first this year, but last year was not a bad memory at all, I was grateful for that time and how I competed.” First place is something Skylar may be more than prepared for heading into next week’s conference championship. She’s currently ranked first in the conference by over a second meaning that Skylar is the favorite to come home with a championship ring. With the championship meet quickly approaching Skylar said that the key to accomplishing her goals in this meet will be trusting in herself and her individual improvement, “I know I’m better than last year I just need to trust it and run”. Unknown to some that are new to the program Skylar wasn’t always the superstar hurdler that she is now. She started off as a 400m and 200m runner for Catawba and converted to hurdles near the end of her first year and found instant success. With her last races for Catawba approaching Skylar’s advice for younger runners is to, “not to compare yourself to others”, she said that for her “that simple mind change converted onto the track I was able to get over the hurdles in my mind and on the track and I realized the potential I had which made me only want to get better”. Be on the lookout for Skylar to add to her successful career at this week’s conference championship meet!
In her first year at Catawba, Madi Clay has already established herself as one of the best athletes on campus. Madi’s freshman cross country season was literally one for the record books at Catawba as she captured all the cross country school records and finished top six in all but one of her races including a first-place finish in both the regional and conference meet. Unfortunately for Madi, she was injured for all of the indoor track season which kept her off the track. In her return to the track, Madi has been just as dominant as she was during cross country. Madi currently stands 17th in all of D2 for the women’s 10k after shattering her own school record last weekend. Although Madi said that getting back from her injury was very difficult she attributes some of her outdoor success to her recovery process as she stated, “In many ways stepping back for a while and starting over made me a much better runner today”. Despite currently being ranked first in the conference for the 10k Madi stayed humble when questioned about her goals for championship season stating that, “The main goal for me is to run the best I can and achieve a time I can be really proud of”.
One of the best short sprinters and hurdlers in Catawba history Rashaun Noble looks to make his mark on the conference as the season winds down. After taking bronze in the 60 hurdles in this year’s indoor conference championship Noble is currently ranked fourth in the 110 hurdles heading into the outdoor championship. Noble credited his consistent control of the top of the conference to a variety of factors as he said that, “Staying locked in at practice is key. Also taking care of your body (and) working on my weaknesses”. Noble won’t just be hurdling once the conference championship arrives, as the top 100m runner for Catawba, Noble is a crucial part of Catawba’s 4 by 100m relay. Composed of Nazir Reid, Justin Glaze, Rashaun Noble and Barja Walter the relay team is currently ranked sixth in the conference. Although the four-by-one is highly ranked the relay has only been completed once as completing handoffs has been a problem for the squad. Noble said that the key to getting the baton across the finish line come conference would be “Applying the same energy during competition as we do in practice. Everyone needs to run relaxed and stay confident no matter who we are up against. Not saying I’m perfect either but we all have to work on it.” A star senior for Catawba, Rashaun Noble could make a lot of noise at their upcoming conference meet.
Possibly one of the best female athletes on campus Samantha had one of the best indoor track seasons in Catawba history last winter. After placing first in the 400 and 4×400 relay, 4th in the 200m Sam followed it up with an All-American performance at indoor nationals placing fourth overall. Sam has lost no momentum during the outdoor season and is currently a tenth of a second away from running under 24 and 54 seconds in the 200m and 400m. She stated that the key to her success this season was to “stay motivated and just believe in myself and my capabilities”. Unknown to some, Sam’s success this season is a bit of a comeback story, after being unable to compete for parts of her past seasons. While Sam credits her training as a help in completing this comeback, meditation was also something that she attributes to her success, “(Meditation) was a key factor to my success just to get in the right head space and clear any thoughts or doubts.” As Sam is ranked near the top of the conference in many events she could be in line for another nationals appearance this track season.
A four-year star for Catawba Everett may be on the brink of an individual championship this outdoor season. Currently ranked second in the conference in the 800m Everette has been on a warpath this outdoor season. While we saw Everette move up in the 1500m and run under four minutes and later nearly break 50 seconds in the 400m it may be strictly 800m racing for Everette as the season closes out. Everette is currently a second off from the school record in the 800m as he’s ran 1:51 in his past four races. According to Everette the formula for setting that school record will come down to the end of his race as he said, “I would like to adjust my last 150 meters in the next couple races. I find myself disconnecting there and I think pulling things together there will drastically help.” As a four-year veteran of Catawba track, Everette has many memories of success at Catawba but he said that the one that stood out to him the most was winning the DMR at indoor conference this year, “Watching Tanner (the last leg of the DMR) run that last leg after I finished the 800 leg was thrilling and I’ve never felt anything like it when I realized we had won”. Hopefully, Everette can add another championship to his resume and another good memory at the conference championship this year.
These runners have worked long and hard to get where they are, be sure to keep an eye on Catawba’s social media accounts for results when they compete in the SAC Outdoor Championships this week!