For senior Breeauna Thompson, it’s maintaining the basic mechanics – keeping arms and thighs up – during that critical leg of the race when it’s most difficult to execute the fundamentals.
For sprinter Cam Parker, it’s been improving on his starts in the 100-meter dash.
For long distance runner Michael Jamieson, it’s cranking the pedal when the opposition isn’t.
The Fresno State track and field team heads to Las Vegas this weekend for its first-ever Mountain West Conference Outdoor Championships, and each participant – runner, thrower or jumper – is fine-tuning certain intricacies in their respective events in preparation for the culminating meet of the outdoor regular season.
Individuals are performing with NCAA Outdoor Championships implications on the line.
Fresno State hopes to make some noise this weekend as the Mountain West’s newcomer.
“This is what we’ve worked for. It’s a team sport,” said Parker, who will be competing in the 100- and 200-meter dashes and possibly both relays.
“Individual records and accomplishments come as the season goes on, but right now all our focus is on winning a team title,” Parker said.
“And if times are good enough to get into regionals, that’s just the icing on the cake — a little something extra.”
For seniors like Jamieson, the conference championships serve as potentially the final opportunity to hit that final mark.
Jamieson, who ran the fastest 800-meter time last year in the Western Athletic Conference at 1:51.73 – and set a personal record in the event this season – aims to lower his time to 1:50.
But, more importantly, he said, he wants to place first.
“I really want to go for that title, so I don’t want to so much count on a time and just be competitive when it counts,” Jamieson said.
“I know I’m fast enough to be up front and I if make it to the finals I’m just going to do everything I can do to help out the team.”
Long jumper Je’Nia Sears and thrower Meagan McKee are among the Bulldogs eyeing a deep run in the NCAA Championships.
Winsor has also said other Bulldogs in the men’s and women’s sprint and long distance events are “on the outside looking in,” with their times and marks measurements short of the typical NCAA standard.
Thompson, a senior who has qualified for the opening round of nationals each year, expects a first-place finish in the 400 this weekend – and hopes it catalyzes a deep run into June.
“I’m looking to win the 400,” said Thompson. “If I go out there and execute and do what I’ve been doing there’s no doubt in my mind that I’m going to win…. If I finish well, then I’m going to have a great race.”
The preparation for the conference championships has been ongoing throughout the year for some Bulldogs.
Thompson ran the 100-meter – an event she typically does not compete in – during the indoor season to gain speed for her outdoor events.
Jamieson ran cross-country – five- to six-mile runs – to gain stamina and endurance for the 800-meter. It’s critical for pushing through the start of second and final lap, the “crucial” third turn, he said.
“That’s the point of the race when you need to go your hardest and that’s when most people back off and try and catch a breather because it’s a whole other lap until you’re done,” Jamieson said.
Last season, the Bulldogs advanced 11 to the NCAA Preliminary Round Championships and captured three individual titles in the WAC Outdoor Championships.
Winsor hopes to see improvement this year in the Mountain West.
“We’ve had a good year,” Winsor said. “People are going to have run well, throw well and jump well for us to climb the ladder on the winning side.”