ASU track & field team motivated to improve, even when setting personal records

If there is one thing to take from the ASU men’s and women’s track and field team, it’s the work ethic of each and every athlete on the roster. No matter the event, or how an individual or group performed at the previous meet, there is not one person who is satisfied with themselves.

Junior Shelby Houlihan is one athlete who embodies these qualities. After running the 800-meter in 2 minutes, 8 seconds at the 2014 NAU Invitational on Jan. 24 and taking first place, Houlihan’s first response was that she was upset she did not run as fast as she would have liked.

Houlihan said she went right back to training after the meet.

 
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At the 2014 University of New Mexico Team Invitational on Feb. 1, Houlihan again won her event, this time the mile race, running a personal-best 4 minutes, 37 seconds. Houlihan again was quick to be critical of herself and said she hoped to run faster, despite winning the race.

“Going into it, I usually have a time goal that I set for myself,” Houlihan said. “It was a PR, an indoor PR, which was good, but I still wanted to run faster.”

This work ethic is not limited to just Houlihan, or to any individual. Every athlete is always quick to be critical of themselves and continues to look to improve on the last meet and elevate themselves to a new level.

One of the things that coach Greg Kraft, and most of his athletes, like to stress during practice in Tempe is competing at different elevations and what that entails as a track athlete, particularly staying hydrated at higher elevations.

At the meet in New Mexico, several of the athletes were suffering from what Kraft described as food-poisoning-like symptoms. Having to deal with this at an elevation of more than 5,000 feet makes it that much more difficult to keep the body hydrated.

Sickness is also something that senior pole vaulter Heather Arseneau has dealt with for two weeks now. For the second straight meet, Arseneau nearly didn’t make the trip with the team due to flu-like symptoms. However, for the second straight week, those symptoms did not seem to bother her much as she took first in the pole vault in Flagstaff.

If Arseneau wants to make it to nationals however, she will have to clear the 14-foot bar. Coach Kraft expects that from one of his top vaulters.

“After she made (her personal best), they went up for the bar up that can get you to (nationals),” Kraft said. “Because it has just taken a while to recover, (it’s important) to not waste energy on that intermediate bar. You know you won the meet, but that bar doesn’t really get you to the NCAA meet.”

Kraft also said that Arseneau, as she recovers from her illness, has only so many jumps in her at any given meet.

Reach the reporter at wslane@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @bill_slane