Team heads to Arizona for meet

Steve Voicik

Spring break has sprung. For most students, that means time to unwind and escape the stress of school, but for the Kent State track and field team, the week-long break takes on a different meaning. For the Flashes, spring break will involve competition and two-a-day practices.

Today, the team is competing in the Arizona State Invitational.

It’s their first outdoor meet of the season and their first full-squad competition since the Mid-American Conference Indoor Championships Feb. 23 and 24.

Head coach Bill Lawson said the layoff between the indoor and outdoor seasons has given the team a chance to regenerate.

“Right now, we are in a transitional time, which includes a heavier and longer training phase,” Lawson said.

He said it will be a difficult week for the team but decided to go ahead with the practices because they are guaranteed good weather throughout the week in Phoenix.

According to senior Chris Caine, the Flashes, who fell just two points short of their first indoor conference championship, learned a lot from that experience.

“We’ve learned to finish meets and to not let up,” Caine said. “We are looking to put the pieces in place for an outdoor title.”

The Flashes were without one of the their top competitors, senior Phil Rickaby, for the indoor championships. Rickaby, a native of Winamalee, Australia, pulled his hamstring on day one of the competition and has been rehabbing ever since.

“It’s frustrating, but now I am focusing on getting healthy and regaining my flexibility,” Rickaby said.

Rickaby, who tore his ACL and missed all of last season, said he expects to be competing by the end of April.

Senior Chad Clemmons will also be returning to action. Clemmons, who is recovering from a nagging hamstring injury, missed the majority of the 2007 indoor campaign but was able to compete in the championships.

“Chad’s recovery has been miraculous,” Lawson said. “He practices hard and was a big part of the MAC Championships. The kid is a warrior.”

Lawson said the team will focus on preparing for the outdoor MAC Championships and will also get athletes experience in events that aren’t held during the indoor season. Rickaby said one of the major differences between indoor and outdoor track is the number of events. The javelin, steeplechase and discus are outdoor events only.

There are no home outdoor meets for the team, but Caine said that doesn’t bother him.

“I enjoy traveling and competing against teams like Arizona, Texas and Iowa,” Caine said. “They are great competition and some of the best (teams) in the country.”

Contact track and field reporter Steve Voicik at [email protected].