DENVER – Coming off a promising indoor campaign, which followed the momentum of a successful showing at the SCAC cross country championships in the fall, the Johnson & Wales University men's track and field team is fired up for the start of 2019 outdoor season.
Coach Chris Sandefur is in his second season leading the Wildcats and will open the outdoor schedule Saturday at the Jerry Quiller Classic hosted by the University of Colorado.
Sandefur says he has a vastly improved team from a year ago, although he's not putting in too much stock into how his runners perform right off the bat. Far and away, the No. 1 priority is to peak for the SCAC Championships on April 27.
"We're still early in our training cycle right now. Our overall goal is to run really fast in April. To see the kind of performances we've had from our sprinters, to our distance kids, at this part of the year has been exciting for sure, especially with what we're doing training-wise," Sandefur said. "We know there's a lot of good things to come."
Senior Alan Almeida (Aurora, CO) and juniors John Jacob (Aurora, OH) and Bryce Moore (Loma, CO) will be names to watch for the Wildcats this spring. Almeida holds the school record in 200-meter dash with a time of 22.23 at last year's Mines Kit Mayer Invite. His top time in the 400 – a 50.99, also at last year's Kit Mayer – ranks second.
Moore and Jacob were critical pieces in helping JWU finish third at the SCAC cross country championships in the fall with both placing in the top 20. They'll be counted on even more during the outdoor season after senior Alberto Rodriguez (San Jacinto, CA) finished his Wildcat career with the end of the winter indoor season.
"We're a young team, and I think overall, we just want to compete," said Moore, who ranks in the top five in the program record book in the 400, 800 and 1,500. "We want to show the conference that we're here and we're going to be competitive against them."
Sandefur feels good about where his guys are at right now coming off a winter where just about everyone continued to improve their personal-best times.
"They're just resilient individuals and they deal with things in a good way. They're going to be hungry at the end of a race," the coach said. "They're always going to be a group that's fighting and trying to achieve personal bests. It's obvious when they go out and compete. They run smart races, and at the end of a race, they're really hungry to run people down and definitely try to not only compete but try to strive to push themselves to a higher personal level."