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As indoor season nears its end, track and field athletes look toward NCAA Championships

As the NCAA track and field Indoor Championships approach, here's an overview of how ASU's season has fared so far

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Then ASU sophomore sprinter Justin Robinson competing at the Baldy Castillo Track and field meet on Saturday, March 19, 2022, at the Joe Selleh Track at Sun Angel Stadium in Tempe.

Breaking records and shattering personal-best marks this season has become a regularity for the ASU track and field team this season. 

At the Tyson Invitational two weeks ago, the Sun Devils won three titles and broke school records in the process. Senior sprinter Justin Robinson took first place in the men's 400-meter dash, breaking his own school record in the process. The 4x400 relay team, featuring Robinson, graduate student Gamali Felix, senior Kaleb Simpson and freshman Jayden Davis, also took home the title with a time of 3:02.73, the best time in the country this year. 

"Obviously, we write down goals at the beginning of the season, but I really don't pay attention to breaking records,” Robinson said. “I honestly just go out there and try to have fun with it."

The team may not pay attention to the records, but that hasn't stopped them from making their mark throughout the year. At the Charlie Thomas Invitational earlier this month, the team won four titles, with junior Adriana Tatum running the women's 200-meter dash in 23.41 seconds and junior Brandon Lloyd winning the shot put with a throw of 18.64 meters. 

READ MORE: ASU junior sprinter wins track and field indoor national championships in 400 meters

The success of the team has helped boost their confidence and deal with the mental side of the sport at times. 

"This year, I've gotten better at not putting so much weight on the little things and just knowing that (I've) prepared myself enough to get to this point," Tatum said. 

Despite flying under the radar for the past few years, the Sun Devils have had numerous medalists over that time period, including graduate student shot-putter Turner Washington, graduate student discus thrower Jorinde van Klinken, and Magdalyn Ewen, who won the discus, shot put and hammer throw at the Pac-12 Championship back in 2017. 

"I really feel like Arizona State has always had a presence in track and field," Dion Miller, director of ASU's track and field program, said. "Our goal is to win a team title so although we have some individual success, what we're trying to do is build a culture that's sustainable for years to come."

ASU has a number of individuals who have their aspirations set for the NCAA Indoor Championships. Lloyd, for example, is ranked No. 22 in the country in the shot put and only has one more tournament, the Ken Shannon Invitational this weekend in Seattle, to get into the qualifying top 16.

Simpson, who has finished behind Robinson in the past two events, is close to qualifying, and Felix could potentially return to the NCAA finals as well. 

On the women's side, freshman Saira Prince has performed admirably in the short hurdle events, and sophomore Mia Chavez, a transfer from the University of Arizona, has had strong showings in distance events. 

"The beauty of track and field (is) we have some really talented athletes," Miller said. "We're excited to see our women's team compete this year … We got to gain a wealth of experience this year, but we got some really good upcoming stars."

With the NCAA Indoor Championships just around the corner, the athletes have tweaked their training schedule to allow for more rest. 

"We had tapered back on intensity and volume," Robinson said. "We can get (our) legs a little bit of rest and recovery just to get ready for these big meets because it's two days of hard competition."

Last year, ASU finished 19th at the Indoor Championships. As they prepare for this year's tournament, the Sun Devils hope to keep the momentum going and fly towards the finish line. 

Edited by Alfred Smith III, Sadie Buggle and Caera Learmonth.

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