ACC track team runs for times, not places

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Sports

March 25, 2015 - 12:00 AM

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Allen Community College’s outdoor track team got a good taste of competition against Division I and II schools at the Alabama Relays this past weekend.
“For 5k athletes, you try and find the best field possible that will run the fastest,” coach Vince DeGrado said. “Usually, you have to go somewhere where there is no wind to run fast times. Not everybody on my team ran the 5k, but a lot of them did. They had good times.”
The added competition in the field led to a good showing from Allen’s runners in the 5000-meters. Pedro Montoya led the way with a 14th place finish in  14 minutes and 57.93 seconds. Diego Sanchez placed 28th and finished in 15:42.32. Ben Najman took 39th in 16:02.79 and Salvador Medrano took 50th in 16:35.36.
“In the 5k, Pedro beat the school record that had been around since 1991. That’s huge. That’s great for the program and great for him,” DeGrado said. “Diego Sanchez bested his personal record by 30 seconds. He had been running great in practices, so I’m not surprised by that. I’m happy that he pulled the trigger and popped a personal best.”
In the distance races runners compete against themselves. This early in the season, DeGrado isn’t worried about placement, but final times. The added competition from Division I athletes also helps out ACC’s runners.
“It’s like if you fell into a river that was flowing really fast,” DeGrado said. “You’re going to go as fast as that river will take you. You’re going to either drown or you’re going to swim.”
Connor Immenschuh was Allen’s only competitor in the 1500-meter. He finished 33rd with a time of 4:03.41.
“Running the 5000m, 10000m, 1500-meter and distance events, you want souped up fields,” DeGrado said. “You want races that have a lot of people in them and that makes it competitive.”
For the quicker, shorter distance events, the Red Devils had strong finishes.
Markeen Caine finished the 800m in 16th with a time of 1:56.32. Of the 15 runners in front of him, 13 were in Division I schools. For the 400m hurdles, Hunter Koike finished 18th in 55.76 seconds and Michael Daprano finished 40th in 59.94 seconds.
For the women, Alisn Stevens was the only distance runner competing for Allen. She came in 38th place in the 5000m with a time of 19:49.05. That was a new personal record for Stevens.
In the short distance events, ACC had only two women run in the 400m. Tieasha Collier finished 14th in 58.64 seconds and Ivori Hood took 34th in 1:03.60.
DeGrado didn’t take the entire team to Alabama because it fell during Allen’s spring break.
“They had the option to go or not,” DeGrado said. “It was if you wanted to run, ‘come to this meet. You have a chance to run fast. If not, here are your spring break workouts. Make sure you do them or else.’ That’s the way it’s kind of been done.”
DeGrado re-emphasized only times, not placement, matter during the regular season.
“It’s all about time,” he said. “I could care less how a kid places during an event. But, if that kid pops a fast time and qualifies for nationals and takes 100th place out of 102 runners, who cares, that was perfect. Now when you get to the national, conference and regional meets, that’s when you look to see how you placed.”
For example, Caine was ranked 15th going into the 800m at the indoor championships last month. He ended up finishing second place overall.
“If they would have run that race multiple times, he probably wouldn’t have gotten second,” DeGrado said. “But, the great thing is, he’s a great competitor. At championship meets, it’s about getting through the rounds.”
Also during regular season meets, there isn’t a team score. It’s much more of an individual sport compared to a team.
“I felt for this trip and being up against Division I runners and that environment, we handled it pretty well,” DeGrado said. “I don’t think a lot of the athletes were worried about the competition. They looked at it like, ‘I’m going to run fast.’ They’re excited about it.
“It’s a little bit different than most sports. We want fields that are that big and that fast. Placing 50th out of 70th isn’t terrible if you ran a personal best. In our sport you can win first place and run slowly, which will make you mad because you didn’t run fast. The crazy thing about our sport is our perception is way different from other sports.”
Allen’s second track meet of the season is Friday in Wichita at the Friends University Invite.

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