Rivalry Helps Athletes Stay on Track

Photo retrieved from https://lynchburgsports.com/sports/track/2019-20/bios/llaneza_sam_rrs3?view=bio.

William Masselli ~ Sports Columnist

     The University of Lynchburg men’s track and field and cross-country teams are finding ways to stay motivated, stay on track to overcome setbacks, and compete against their fellow rivals. 

     Sam Llaneza, a distance runner on the men’s track and field team, credited his friends, family, coaches, and teammates for keeping everyone motivated. Llaneza said, “I stayed motivated by communicating with fellow teammates and by looking forward to the goals we set as a team. Also, having some great training partners always helps.” 

     Brennan Straits, who is also a distance runner on the men’s cross-country team, said that he had a productive break that increased his motivation. Straits said, “This break was a little bit different. We were able to take advantage of people that live nearby. We stayed in contact with one another quite frequently through group meet. We would send each other selfies and post reports of the times we ran that day. We would do all of this to hold teammates accountable.” 

      Recently, the national championships have been cancelled, but Head Coach Samuel Reed said that this will not affect their season. Reed said, “The fact that nationals have been cancelled does not affect the team as a whole because track is a very individualistic sport. Hence, nothing changes for us.” 

     Along with the cancellation of nationals, Coach Reed talked about the other ways how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the track and field team. Reed said, “I would say the biggest issue for us is the number of distance athletes we have. Hence, finding the meeting place where we can find the distance to be together is the main challenge. Other than that, it is not a big issue as we are an outdoor sport.”

     Llaneza is looking forward to competing rigorously against ODAC rivals. Llaneza said, “Since nationals were cancelled, our goals are just to compete with the opportunities we have. We are just trying to get as fit as possible for a hopeful outdoor ODAC championship and possible National Championship in future years.”

   Straits said, “Washington and Lee is the team that first comes to our mind as they are our fiercest rival in long distance competition, but it is all in good spirit as both teams end up performing their best against one another. The fierce competition from Washington and Lee inspires me and my teammates to run our best times. Our rivalry shows that rivalries can be beneficial as long as sportsmanship is maintained because individuals end up performing better. Hence, when it comes to motivation, one can say that rivalries help people stay on track.”

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