Track and field: Chasing a dynasty

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Track and field: Chasing a dynasty

Oakland track and field will compete against UDM at Detroit on April 9.

Oakland track and field will compete against UDM at Detroit on April 9.

Oakland track and field will compete against UDM at Detroit on April 9.

Oakland track and field will compete against UDM at Detroit on April 9.

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Oakland men’s and women’s cross country and women’s indoor track and field brought home Horizon League titles this academic year. The track and field team has used this as motivation for the outdoor season.

“Obviously you’re trying to keep riding that wave of success, and we are looking for another title,” head coach Paul Rice wrote in an email. 

“We get greedy and want to keep it rolling, but the reality is that it is the toughest of the three [sports] for us to win because we are adding more events, and we don’t have the depth to compete with the top teams. We want to be top-two, but the reality of us winning will be tough.”

A disadvantage on the women’s side — other than lacking numbers, especially in field events — is that Rice is redshirting Miranda Haas and Rachel Levy, two of the top distance runners, during outdoor season.

“Miranda is a fourth-year distance runner, and for distance especially, runners get stronger and run their races smarter as they get older,” Rice wrote. 

“She is also going to focus more strategically on steeplechase and training. Rachel has been on and off due to injuries. So redshirting her is just a precaution to try to keep her healthy. Both decisions are not something we would like to do, but were made with the best interest of the athletes and team in mind.”

 

Dynasty

Milwaukee has won the Horizon League men’s and women’s indoor track and field championship a combined 21 times since 2000. 

“When you compare us to other schools, we are the up-and-coming program,” Rice wrote. 

“Milwaukee and Youngstown, they have been there done that. When you have been there done that, it’s just another year, your athletes aren’t as hungry. I think that we have an advantage because we are right there, and those two programs aren’t used to being pushed and being chased like we are doing to them now.”

Bryce Stroede, school record holder in the men’s 5000m, echoes Rice.

“Some people/teams set attainable goals, but here at [Oakland], we aren’t chasing the attainable, we chase our dreams,” Stroede wrote in an email. “We are focused and ready to put ourselves where we belong: top 2 in the league.”

Rice added that “the mild outdoor weather was a contribution” to the team’s indoor success. 

He explained that having the milder conditions allowed distance runners to go on long runs at good paces and not have to worry about ice, snow or catching their footing.

“Our athletes are getting older and built up some tolerance for higher-level training,” he wrote. “You learn your limits and how to push them. Athletes have learned about themselves and their limits in the past couple of years.”

“Everyone cares about everyone else on the team,” Stroede wrote.

With that kind of environment, success can bloom.

“We truly are a family,” Stroede wrote. “I know everyone says that your team is your family, but we actually are one.”

Stroede wrote that the best motto to fit the team is “for each other, with each other.”

“A lot has happened to get to this point, and a lot of pieces have fallen into place,” Rice wrote. “We are going to keep adding pieces to the puzzle until we are the dynasty of the league.”

Oakland track and field competes at Detroit on April 9.