I hope that you enjoyed the first installment of the track and field practice blog yesterday. Our regional competitors leave for Austin, Texas, today, so yesterday was their last day on campus until they return this weekend.
Some of the distance runners had a long day. The usual 7:15 a.m. Monday-Wednesday-Thursday practice crowd was sparse, with only five — four redshirting freshman plus junior Erik Olson — embarking on a run east of campus past Gunn High School and into Los Altos Hills. Most of the distance crew — men and women — reconvened at 2:30 p.m. for a weight room session before heading out for the day’s second run.
Also in the afternoon, our four regional competitors in the 1,500 meters — Mike, Stutz, Marco Bertolotti and Justin Brinkley — had one final tune-up workout before going down to Texas. The work was relatively easy: two 800s at 5k pace, four 400s at 64-66 seconds apiece and four 150s at race pace.
Other men’s regional competitors out at Cobb Track & Angell Field this afternoon included senior javelin thrower Aaron Konigsberg, whose workout included mobility drills over hurdles, and sophomore hammer thrower Lucas Rowley, who was going through a session under the watchful eye of associate head coach Michele Eisenreich.
While the work is intense, practice can have its lighter moments. Senior thrower Geoff Tabor, who will be competing in both the shot put and the discus at the regional meet, and I happen to think the movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” is one of the greatest films of all time. Over the past few weeks we’ve been quoting lines of the movie back and forth to one another, usually accompanied by Geoff’s raucous and infectious laughter. Our dialogue yesterday started in the locker room when I started singing the Soggy Bottom Boys and continued out to the track. But I digress. Back to track and field.
Our women’s squad is sending 10 distance runners to Austin, including three half-milers. Justine Fedronic, Amy Weissenbach and Claudia Sanders are at the core of a strong middle distance group and they hit the track for the final time yesterday before departing this [Tuesday] afternoon. This crew completed four 400s, four 200s and four 80 meter all-out sprints in advance of its Thursday preliminary round.
Jess Tonn and Emilie Amaro — both running the 5,000 meters — were seen running a few strides on the backstretch after their easy runs. Kori Carter — yes, the Kori Carter — was spending a little quality time with coach Jody Stewart under some shade at one end of the track, while high jumper Elaine Patten was perfecting her Fosbury Flop technique with coach Mike Eskind.
All the while, first-year head coach Chris Miltenberg sat in whatever shade he could find at the south end of the bleachers. Coach Milt has really worked hard to change the culture of Stanford track and field, preaching dedication, commitment, attention to detail in everything that has done. His “all-in” mentality has permeated the entire program, and while the results may not be there at the moment, he believes we’re moving in the right direction.
“The train is leaving,” he says in meetings, adding, “and you will get left behind.”
Miltenberg’s no-nonsense attitude is a stark contrast from the previous coaching staff and is something everyone has had to get used to. For some athletes, it hasn’t been an easy transition — by my count, the team is about 20 percent smaller than it was in September — but I think by now those who are left have really bought into the vision that Coach Milt and his staff have for this program.