NATSOT: Start of the national championship race.
Me: That was the sound of one of the most important races in the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater athletics history. In the 2013 NCAA Division 3 Men’s Track & Field season, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks took fourth overall place at the national competition. Even though the team had the best year in school history, the team’s returning leaders look to build on the success from the previous season.
NATSOT: Coach NATSOT. Michael Johnson, or MJ as he is known to his athletes, is the man at the top of the program who believes that the returning leaders have what it takes to improve on the mark the team set last year.
MJ: I’m real excited at the outlook for this year’s team. When we first started this season, I told the guys that even though we had a good year last year, you can’t get complacent. You have to use a fourth place finish as motivation, because there are still teams that we are trying to catch. At whitewater, we have a winning tradition and we want to continue that.
Me: All-American sprinters and team captains Dylan Crafton, Moriante Brown-Griffin, and Devin Grainger are important pieces to the puzzle when it comes to helping the team get that first place trophy in 2014. Each captain took it upon themselves to improve some personal things in their game. Despite each of the three feeling that they need to improve in different areas, they all are working together towards the same goal. Dylan believes that he can better his game by losing unnecessary body fat.
Dylan: I weighed 180 last season, and I was obese in my mind (laugh). I ran pretty good times last year when I was heavier, so my goal is to get down to around 170 or so. If I get down to 170 I will become more agile, which will lead to faster times. And faster times will lead to a first place finish babyyyyyy.
Me: Captain Brown-griffin’s task seems to be a bit harder. He wants to improve his technique and speed.
Tae: Improving my technique is my main goal. Coach MJ always told me that I needed to improve my form, but I never really listened to him because I was getting great times. But this year, I feel that if I improve my technique the way coach suggests that my speed will be even better than what it was last year.
Me: Captain Grainger seems to have the most difficult task, and it has nothing to do with the work that is put in on the track.
Grainger: My job this year as a captain is to get these guys to remain hungry. I have to remind these guys that the 4th place trophy was nice, but we weren’t crowned champions. I believe if we work hard in the weight room and remained focus, we can bring that first place trophy to the dirty dub.
Me: The Whitewater men’s track and field season will begin on January 18, 2014 in Whitewater as they host the Karl Schlender Invitational Competition. For webhawk news, I’m Aaron Payne, in Whitewater.