With track season kicking off, head coach Natnael Amare has high hopes for his athletes.
In addition to the returners, 18 freshman have been added to the roster since last fall.
With only two seniors on both the men’s and women’s teams, Amare will look to his younger athletes this season.
“My goal is to get them over those first butterflies,” he said. “We have a young team, and what I want is for them to experience what it means to compete at this level. After that, the goal is to qualify for nationals as individuals and as a team on the relay.”
Amare says having a young team has its benefits in the long run.
“You want to be able to teach them from scratch,” he said. “I’ve had experience with transfers and it doesn’t work out well. You want to mold them the way you want, the reward is great in the end.”
Senior Carrie Finson, captain of the women’s track team and a distance runner, wholeheartedly accepts her leadership role.
“It feels awesome,” said Finson, a business marketing and finance major. “I love this group of girls; we work hard and we push and support each other. They don’t act like freshman. I was nervous at first, but now it doesn’t even feel that way.”
Finson will be out during the indoor season due to stress fractures she suffered last season. She will be using the outdoor season – which starts March 17 – to prepare for running a half marathon.
“During outdoor track it’s mainly going to be me fine-tuning so I can qualify for nationals in the full marathon,” she said.
Finson said watching from the sidelines has not been easy.
“It has been hard, ” she said. “But I know my team supports me so it’s not that bad. Going to practice and watching the girls put in the effort and getting to coach them and lead them and encourage them. The girls are really good.”
For senior David Switocha, it’s all about being able to give feedback to his younger teammates.
“You take on this leadership role, and you get to see them grow as athletes and students,” said Switocha, a exercise science major and distance runner. “It’s good to have young guys who don’t really know what college athletics is yet.”
Despite having a small team, the Rams look to qualify for the indoor nationals, he said. The NAIA Indoor National Championship is March 2-4 in Kansas City.
“This season it’s all about getting us qualified,” he said. “We don’t have a full team for the men’s program so it’s mainly about having them hit the qualifying marks.”
“I wouldn’t mind a couple more upperclassmen, but it’s good they’re so young. They are going to be the future of the program.”
The Rams and Lady Rams return to action on Saturday, when they travel to San Antonio to compete in the Trinity Open at Trinity University. The teams will return to Fort Worth on March 17 for the TCU Invitational at Texas Christian University. For more information, go to ramsports.net.