Competition brings the best out of rivals and can lead to some great moments.
Arizona State hosted the Pac-12/Big Ten Invitational this weekend and had itself a lot of solid races against elite programs like Michigan and Nebraska, but the most exciting race came against rival Arizona.
The race was the 4x400 meter men’s relay that came down to the Sun Devils and the Wildcats. The race was close all the way and lead to both team’s cheering their runners on, as the race was ending, the crowd got more and more involved. The ending was beautiful as Junior Drelan Bramwell barely beat out the Arizona runner at the finish line by .08 seconds.
The fans and athletes went nuts over the win and even though Arizona State and the Pac-12 didn’t win the meet (the Sun Devils placed fourth in both men and women), they were able to hand their rival another loss.
Head coach Greg Kraft was happy with his runners but wants them to keep on improving, even in victory.
“I think he should’ve been a bit more patient because I think he wanted to make a statement right off the bat,” Kraft said. “He’s an emotional guy and a competitive guy and that’s what we love about him. I think we would’ve won by a lot more if he was more patient in the first 100 meters of that race.”
The meet produced a lot more than just a great race, as once again, redshirt junior Maggie Ewen broke another record. The record she broke wasn’t her newly established American Collegiate record but breaking the meet’s hammer throw record, throwing 71.72 meters. The Minnesota native has been on tear recently and the only thing that can slow her down is her coaches not letting her compete to keep her fresh.
With a new throwing coach, Ewen said she was worried about taking the wrong foot and ending up doing worse but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Ewen also said that it’s her mindset that helps her do so well.
“It keeps me in a much calmer place instead of thinking ‘Oh my gosh I threw 72, 71, I’m only 20 meters off the collegiate record, I need to throw that collegiate record because I’m so close’,” Ewen said. “That just stresses you out in a way that you don’t need to be stressed out. Like if big throws are gonna happen, it’s going to happen and there’s no reason to put that much pressure on yourself.”
Ewen wasn’t the only one to earn first place for the Devils. In the field events, senior Kyle Long and sophomore Joey Bryant both produced top five performances with Ewen and in the running events, transfer junior Deshaunda Morrison, senior CJ Albertson and freshman Megan Reneiewicki got first place in their respective race.
Kraft has a good portion of his athletes still at the building portion of the season and though he said they’re making progress, especially on the men’s side, they need the women to take that next step forward.
“It’s a fairly young team (women’s) and so we competed a lot of ladies this week...and it’s just really important for them to get out there,” Kraft said. “I think a lot of young people have a lot anxiety on how they perceive they look or how they should be running and you don’t know how you’re gonna compete and that’s why we run the race. So it’s really important that those ladies learn to come out and get out of their comfort zone and I think that’s whats really hard for young athletes to do.”
One of the risers for this program is Morrison,who has been very impressive in her first two home meets.
Morrison transferred from the College of the Sequoias to Arizona State last semester and after dealing with some injuries early on, Morrison has been running quite well in the beginning of the outdoor season. Being a Ju-Co transfer, Morrison said it’s been a tool of gratification and has added some good pressure on her.
“Coming from a JuCo, you’re definitely a lot more grateful,” Morrison said. “Anyone that went to junior college knows that if you make it out you really did what you’re supposed to. But coming from a JuCo I definitely have a lot more gratitude towards just everything I’ve been given cause I never got that back then.”
Though the team is scheduled for the Stanford Invite next week, the Sun Devils aren’t expected to send that many runners to the meet in order to keep them healthy and fresh for the Sun Angel Classic that’s in two weeks. Kraft said he views that meet as the start of the time when his competitors need to step up.