This weekend, qualified track-and-field athletes will be competing at the New England Division III Meet, with the men traveling to MIT while the women head to Springfield College. In anticipation of the first meet of the indoor season with qualifying implications for Nationals, The Argus sat down with Head Coach Walter Curry to talk about the season so far, as well as the meets to come.
The Argus: The team thus far has broken multiple records and had great performances. Reflect on the season thus far; how has it been?
Walter Curry: Personally, it’s been a somewhat successful season for our program. We are two separate programs, the men’s and the women’s. Our women’s program has been having quite a bit of success. We are a younger team. Our distance group [is] just two seniors and quite a few freshmen and a couple sophomores. [In] our sprint/jump/hurdle area, we have one very strong senior, Captain Sierra Livious, who is a school-record holder in the shot put, indoors and outdoors. She’s also closing in on the weight throw record. She just picked up the weight throw this year, and so she’s an extremely talented young lady [and] team captain. We rely on her very, very much. Not so much for her athletic ability, which of course she does a very good job with, but [more for] her leadership and just her inspiration to the team. She’s a good athlete that we have.
We’ve set a couple records, a few records actually. Our women’s 4×4, which was predominantly freshmen, sophomores. Well, two sophomores, a junior and a freshman, so younger [athletes]. Again, [Livious] set the shot put record. Kiley Kennedy is a sophomore. [She] set our pole vault record, and she has a lot more in her, and we’re hoping that’ll come out over the next couple of weeks.
For our men’s program, some of our mainstays [include] LaDarius Drew [’15], who also plays football for us. [He’s] having a pretty strong year this year coming back from injury last year. He was injured and out for practically the entire track and field season, came back and ran at Little Threes and the NESCAC Championships, and was a member of the record-setting 4×4 team last year. But he’s completely healthy this year and he’s been running pretty well. Luca Ameri, who’s a junior for us, is running very well this year, set PRs for himself; he’s run 50.5 in the 400 and he’s qualified for the Division III New England’s which will be coming up. Agbon Edomwonyi, who is a sophomore thrower for us, is closing in on the weight throw record that we have here. Kid with a lot of ability, real big athletic kid.
A: What do you think the most important contributors have been to the team’s success so far?
WC: We have a very committed staff and we have a very committed group of athletes. A lot of people on the campus don’t realize that, at least for the running sports—our cross country, track, and field—that it is quite a commitment. And this is not disparaging to any of the other athletes or coaches or sports. Everyone puts in large amounts of time to make sure that their teams are developed and successful. It’s a very, very long year for us, and the kids are very dedicated and committed, and we as a staff appreciate that because we put in a lot of time trying to make sure that we have proper training programs and proper lifting programs, and we’re giving them the proper amount of rest and the proper amount of motivation.
So it’s definitely something that I think is important to our program and has helped us to be [as] successful as we are in NESCACs. The conference is extremely challenging. You can ask any coach in our athletic department that this is far and away the most competitive conference in the United States if you’re speaking about [Division III] student-athletes. I mean we have top-notch students and top-notch athletes, and with the schools in our conference, it’s extremely challenging. So it’s important that we have people that are committed to being student-athletes and putting in the time and effort and the work that is required to be competitive at this level with these types of schools.
A: The next meet this weekend, as you’ve mentioned, is the New England Division III Championship. What has the preparation going into this meet been like?
WC: Development with track and field and distance running is different than preparation for other sports, other team sports. Because [with] a team sport, you have a game plan based on your opponents’ strengths and weaknesses. Track and field is basically conditioning your body and continuously conditioning your body to run faster, jump farther, to throw farther. And you’re basically pushing your body to its limits as far as what it can and can’t do. So we’ve been building and planning for this since we started training in November.
The main thing is to continue to train hard and to stay healthy and to stay rested, which is difficult to do on a college campus because there are, you know, so many things going on. The academics, the social life, the dorm life; we have a lot of kids right now that are just getting over being sick. There’s something going around campus. So it’s a lot of different things involved.
One good thing about a meet this large and this competitive is that a lot of things get watered down because of the amount of athletes. But it’s still a very challenging meet to take part in. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that things work the way that we’ve planned and that everyone is well rested and full of energy and ready to compete because, like I said, there’s one shot to do this. And after that, we’re onto our next meet.
A: What are your hopes and goals for the rest of the indoor season?
WC: For the indoor season, the Division III New England Championships is our focus. That is a precursor. It gives us an idea of where we’re at as a program going into outdoors. That’s why our goals for our women and for our men [are] to be in the top 10. Because we’re talking in excess of almost 60 schools. So if we’re in the top 10, and the majority of those schools are going to be NESCAC schools, if we’re in the top 10, we’re doing pretty well. As far as NESCAC goes, that’s our program focus. We want to test ourselves and see, if you want to call it, our program worth based on where we finish against our competitor schools. That’s something that’s always been important to me as a head coach, and I want it to be important to our program.
This interview has been edited for length.