By Sye Bennefield
LOGOS STAFF WRITER
The University of the Incarnate Word’s track-and-field teams set a total of nine school records Jan. 16 at the J.D. Martin Invitational hosted by the University of Oklahoma.
The Cardinals set 23 school records in three total invitationals. The strong performances could be credited to a lot of different things but Dr. Derek Riedel, who coaches them, singled out one in particular.
“They’re working hard,” Riedel said. “The coaching staff is getting them ready, they’re getting in good workouts, working hard and hitting the weights hard and above all, they’re just very talented.”
That talent was most evident at the Cherry & Silver Invitational hosted Jan. 22-23 by the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque Convention Center.
On hand were nationally known collegiate programs such as Texas, Southern Methodist University and Fresno State and UIW’s Southland Conference competitors such as Sam Houston and Southeastern Louisiana.
“It was a good opportunity for our athletes to see some competition that they ordinarily wouldn’t see,” Riedel said.
The Cardinals wasted no time in introducing themselves to their new and old competition, going on to break eight school records, almost matching what they accomplished in Oklahoma the weekend prior.
One of those school records was set by sophomore jumper/sprinter Sarea Alexander, an athletic training major.
Alexander broke her school records in both the triple jump and long jump and after the invitational was ranked No. 1 in the conference in the long jump and No. 4 in the triple.
“That was a fantastic meet for her,” said Riedel. “It wasn’t a surprise that she did that, but she was kind of what I would say, the MVP of the meet.”
Other notables of the Cherry & Silver Invitational Riedel mentioned were sophomore middle-distance runner, Deion Hardy, an athletic training major; freshman sprinter Clint Cole; and senior sprinter/high jumper Jasmine Waring. Cole and Waring are rehabilitative sciences majors.
“Cole, a freshman sprinter, ran really well at New Mexico,” Riedel said. “He ran a good 200m and ran for the first time the 4x400m B team, and ran a solid leg there. Then Deion Hardy ran really well. He elevated himself to fourth in the conference in the 800m at that meet and he also ran the 600m. Jasmine Waring jumped 5-07 in the high jump and that put her tied for second in the conference at that meet.”
Those notable performances stood out in Riedel’s mind, but again he quickly reiterated what he had said before
“But again we broke eight school records.”
Things were no different a week later at the Howie Ryan Invitational hosted Jan. 29-30 by the University of Houston.
Hardy and senior Rainy Castaneda, a middle-distance runner and government major, set new school records in the mile. That now has Castaneda ranked second in conference.
Both the men and women’s DMR (distance medley relay) also set school records. The men’s broke the school’s record while the women’s had the second-fastest time.
Junior Ryan Haese, a kinesiology major and multi-event athlete for the Cardinals, broke the school record by almost 200 points and now is ranked fourth in the conference.
Even with the move to Division I, the Cardinals’ track-and-field teams are continuing to show UIW can compete with other programs. Recruits no longer have to go to cross-town rivals such as University of Texas-San Antonio in the hopes of running in Division I.
“We (UIW) can offer a very high-quality education, a beautiful campus, a good school and now they (recruits) can compete at the Division I level,” said Riedel.
Up next for the Cardinals: the Southland Conference Championships in Birmingham, Ala., Feb. 15-16.
“We’re going in motivated, we’re 99 percent healthy and all of our main athletes are healthy, motivated and ready to go,” said Riedel. “Forty-eight athletes will make the trip.”
On March 18-19, UIW will host its own Quadrangle Invite meet with local nearby universities. Then after a string of relays and invitationals they will host the UIW Invitational April 8-9.
“It’s an opportunity for our athletes to compete on the track here at home and have their friends, family and classmates come watch them without having to travel,” Riedel said.