The Utah Tech track and field team plan to ‘elevate’ their season

The track and field team walks up to the track for practice Feb. 23, 2023, during the spring semester. The Utah Tech track and field team is in peak preparation for their first meet Feb. 3 at Northern Arizona University. Miki Akiyama | Sun News Daily

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Off to a running start, the Utah Tech University track and field team starts their indoor season with nine top-eight finishes.

The team attended the Brigham Young University Invitational Dec. 9 for their first indoor meet. At the meet, team members achieved 26 personal bests.

The team also attended the BYU Cougar Invitational Jan. 11-13, where athletes recorded 19 personal bests, set two school records and posted eight top-eight finishes.

Head coach Derrick Atkins said in track and field, the top eight athletes earn scores at the Western Athletic Conference championships, so he sets that standard for the program. The athletes strive for top eight in every event they compete in.

Atkins said a goal for this season is to continue to improve. He said the team is young, with half of the team being freshmen this year.

“Our sport is very different,” Atkins said. “You don’t have wins and losses like football, basketball and soccer. The biggest thing is to continue to improve and get better and build on each competition, each race, each practice.”

The Trailblazers start their season indoors. However, Atkins said they train outdoors year-round and they treat the indoor season as a prelude to outdoor. He said they aren’t focused on breaking world records at indoor meets but treat it more as a stepping stone for being their best come time for outdoor.

Ashlyn Parish, a sophomore recreation and sports management major from Fort Worth, Texas competes for the Trailblazers in hurdles. Parish said she prefers outdoor track because when the weather is nice and everyone can warm up out on the field together, it becomes more team-oriented.

To create a team culture, Parish said they prioritize team bonding.

“We do a thing called accountability buddies,” Parish said. “We have a couple girls that we’re checking in with all the time, talking about our goals, practices and meets.”

Sadie Edwards, a junior information technology major from Provo, competes in sprints. She said even though track and field is an individual sport, the team has been focusing on competing together and being a team. She said they have done this throughout their training, and they focus on encouraging each other in practices.

“In our training, we focus a lot on making the goals for each other,” Edwards said. “We make sure that we’re getting through the workouts together, and it’s not an individual sport when we’re practicing.”

Each season the team picks a word to encapsulate the season and their goals. This season their word is “elevate.” Working as a team, their goal is to elevate their standards and performance. Atkins described the team’s word ‘elevate’ as an acronym they use as part of their program.

E: Elevate

L: Leadership

E: Encouragement

V: Vision

A: Attitude

T: Trust

E: Excellence

With these goals in mind, the Trailblazers will compete Feb. 2 at the Northern Arizona University Ron Mann Classic.