Track and field sets the bar high for outdoor


With the closing of the UW-Whitewater women’s track and field indoor season, the team is taking advantage of the break to keep practicing and maintaining their performance.

Kaitlin Geisler, Assistant Women’s Sports Editor

With the conclusion of NCAA indoor championships having been Mar. 11, the 

UW-Whitewater women’s track and field team is currently in the process of beginning to prepare for the outdoor season. That switch from working indoor to outdoor is a challenge for the team due to the weather and expanded event options.

Head coach Mike Johnson said that the later spring break is actually beneficial for the team to continue practicing and working on themselves. During spring break, the athletes need to stay active and continue eating healthy to keep their performance levels up from the indoor season.

“Last year with the outdoor season, we took a big jump and this year we took an even bigger jump in indoor,” Johnson said. “Everybody’s on board and united in continuing to move that way. It was great to have a lot of hard work coming from the conference meet but then also to have a good performance with the National meet. Having a national champion on top of that was pretty exciting, too.”

The national champion in the indoor season was sophomore pole vaulter Gracie Holland. She went completely undefeated by her opponents and even destroyed her own school record that she had set. So looking into the upcoming outdoor season, the bar is set pretty high.

With her impressive performance, Holland is someone on the team that has had a good amount of experience in meets right next to some of the other women on the team. That experience also comes with being through multiple indoor to outdoor switches, and knowing the ins and outs.

“It’s important to make sure to take the proper recovery time after all the meets and the conference meets for all of my teammates. We’ve all been doing a good job of recovering and then we also will be doing practices outside getting acclimated to the weather and the new events,” Holland said. “We’ve also had a few nutrition meetings from our head coach and RJ Soderman, and I think that’s helping a lot because everyone’s trying to come back stronger.”

As Holland mentioned, and Johson also noted, the weather in the outdoor season can be brutal. Like with the 2022 outdoor season, which had unrelenting cold and windy conditions according to Johson. 

“It’s one of those things where if we just maintain our focus and ride the momentum that we have with a good team culture, good work ethic, etc. then we can be more successful,” Johnson said. “There’s always gonna be those different challenges whether it tends to play into the psyche of outdoor track athletes or not. So if you can make it where it’s not to their detriment, and it’s just hey, this is part of the territory, this is what comes with it then it’s easier. One week is not gonna be a waste just because the conditions aren’t ideal.”

Keeping the athletes mental game strong is just as important as keeping the physical performance strong like in many other sports. Another thing that can help motivate the athletes is appealing to the competitive side of track. Such as the outdoor conference championships May 5 and May 6.

“We’re hosting our outdoor conference championships here this year,” Johnson said. “Everybody loves competing at home and it’s even more exciting to have a big competition when you’re actually the ones hosting an event like that. Our goal right now is to try to get us consistently in the top three in the conference. So we’ll see if we can either get that or get really close to it. And if we can’t, you know, that’s just a springboard for us going into next season as well.”

As the team sets their goals for their performances in this year’s outdoor season, time spent practicing and maintaining their performances can aid in achieving all of those things as the coaches emphasize to their athletes. The most important thing is to always improve as an athlete. The team’s first test of how well they improved is an away meet set to take place Apr. 1 at UW-Platteville.

“I think for outdoor we’re all just looking to ride the wave of indoor and keep going, staying hungry, so outdoor should be very fun to see,” Holland said. “We saw a lot of potential and a lot of growth from last year. We also have a lot of new people, so we are a very young team and a lot of us will be returning for next year, so we can always build off what happens this year no matter what.”