ASU track team has light week of practice with injured athletes

Going into the Double Dual meet in Tucson Saturday, the ASU men’s and women’s track and field team is using a light week of practice to prepare for the last meet before the Pac-12 championships.

There has been a string of hand injuries that have plagued some of the throwers on the team recently, but they aren’t the only group that has been dealing with injuries recently.

Freshman Tatum Benard-Taylor, senior Daveon Collins and redshirt junior Devan Spann have all been dealing with some form of injury this season. It is going to be important for the team to have those three healthy for the sprinting group to have success in the championship meets.

“Those are three very glaring ones on the track,” coach Greg Kraft said. “They are high-caliber athletes, NCAA-caliber athletes that have dealt with issues. So that’s something that we’re definitely aware of.”

On the women’s team, seniors Asiah Gooden and Alycia Herring have been struggling with injuries throughout the outdoor season.

These injuries don’t seem to surprise Kraft, who said he thinks that every team in the nation is also dealing with these types of issues at this time of the season.

“I think every team in the country has issues,” Kraft said. “You know, when you compete indoor track and outdoor track, I mean your season is pretty long. You’re going to have some of those issues.”

It’s more important for the team not to prevent these injuries, as they are inevitable and part of the sport, but to handle them in the correct way to get injured athletes healthy and make sure they communicate their injuries.

“It’s how you manage it and how you communicate those issues and stay on course,” Kraft said. “And at this time of the year, the biggest thing as a coach is just trying to keep everybody dialed in, calm and confident.”

The training load this week for the team is going to be pretty light in comparison to previous weeks. The focus of the team has always been on the long-term goals of winning the Pac-12 championship and competing well at the outdoor national meet.

The plan will be to ramp the training back up after this week, with the Pac-12 championships starting May 10.

“It definitely cuts back, and it gets a little lighter for the athletes,” Kraft said. “That’s one of the easiest things to do, and I think the athletes enjoy it.”

These next two weeks can be difficult for student-athletes in terms of being able to stay focused on their goals. With finals week coming up, it can be difficult for athletes to juggle their schoolwork along with staying in the right state of mind for the end of the season.

“That does cause a distraction,” Kraft said. “And then the other distraction obviously is with your seniors. We have 23 seniors on the team, and they’re going through graduation so you have a lot of family come down here and they’re distractions.”

Kraft also said it’s important for those seniors to make the right choices as they celebrate the end of their academic career at ASU.

“Rumor has it, there’s some parties and stuff to celebrate graduation,” Kraft said. “You just try to let everybody know that rest and hydration are key components to any training program in the championship time of the season.”

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