ASU track and field takes week off from competition before nationals

The ASU men’s and women’s track and field teams will be taking the week off from competition in preparation for the 2014 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.

For most of the qualified athletes, it will be the third time they have made the trip to Albuquerque to compete. The team has previously competed in the New Mexico Team Invitational and the Don Kirby Invitational. Redshirt senior Anna Jelmini also competed in the USA Track and Field Championships in Albuquerque last month.

Jelmini competed in that event after already being qualified for the nationals just to get more acquainted with the type of competition she will see in the national meet. Jelmini is happy to have that experience, but hopes to improve in what will be a similar atmosphere at nationals.

“I feel like I could’ve done better in that situation,” Jelmini said. “I had been practicing well, I warmed up well; but I didn’t compete where I wanted to. But, at the same time, (USATF) is not the collegiate circuit, so it’s not that big of a deal that I didn’t do as well as I’d like.”

It is also important to get as much experience in an indoor facility for ASU athletes because ASU does not have an indoor facility to practice in.

“We train outside on a wood ring here, because we don’t really have the need for an indoor facility,” Jelmini said. “So competing (in Albuquerque), you’re inside obviously, the ring’s a lot faster than it is here. I know a lot of people complain about it.”

Jelmini is no stranger to the center in Albuquerque, so she is not concerned with its differences from training in Tempe.

“I’ve thrown there so many times over the past five years, that it’s not that big of a deal to me,” Jelmini said.

Jelmini is one of four athletes that will be representing ASU at the national meet. The other qualified athletes are redshirt senior Ryan Milus, freshman Tatum Benard-Taylor and junior Shelby Houlihan.

Milus and Benard-Taylor both found themselves in the top five in the ASU record book for the 60-meter dash this season and will be looking to improve further in that at nationals.

Houlihan, on the other hand, broke the ASU record for both the mile run and the 3000-meter run this season, so she is in a good position to perform well in Albuquerque.

At last year’s meet, the women placed seventh and the men finished 16th in the final rankings in Fayetteville, Ark. Oregon won the meet for the women with Arkansas taking the top spot for the men. ASU last won the meet in 2008.

The past is not in the minds of any of the qualified athletes: It’s a new season when the meet starts.

“Obviously, everybody that goes to the meet it’s just a clean slate, because it doesn’t really matter what you do the entire year,” Jelmini said. “It just matters what you do at the NCAAs.”

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