At the Jerry Gravel Invitational, hosted by Westfield State University, the FSU Outdoor Women’s Track and Field Team set four new school records.
Junior Patrice Haney is one of the four women to set a new school record.
Haney is originally from Holbrook and has been running varsity track since the seventh grade.
“Soccer was my main sport at the time so I was playing for the high school,” Haney said. “A lot of the girls on the team played track as an off-season sport, so I decided to give it a try and obviously ended up loving it.”
Haney joined FSU’s team her freshman year after Head Coach Scott VanderMolen recruited her to run for the school. It was also the first year track and field would be competing as a varsity sport.
In a track and field competition, there are generally three different sprint distances: 100-meter, 200-meter, and 400-meter.
While Haney’s main events consist of sprints, relays, and jumping events, the team didn’t have enough athletes to compete in the relays forcing Haney to focus on her sprints.
During the off-season, forced upon by COVID-19, Haney took the opportunity to continue training at home.
“My family had COVID scares so we didn’t leave our house for a month. My only way to get outside was to go for a run. I really got into endurance training. So I focused a bit more on long distance running instead of sprinting,” Haney said. “Scott also gave us off-season workouts to do, so I was typically running about 1 to 3 miles a day.
“Once this fall season started, we began doing captains’ practices for sprinting again,” she added.
The team returned to competitive action this season after more than a year off due to the ongoing pandemic. They came back strong for their first meet of the season at the Bridgewater State University Invitationals.
“I’m realistic. I know I’m not running professional track anytime soon, so I know these are my last four years competing in it. Obviously, I can run forever, but it’s the competition that’s the most exciting part, so even just to lose one of the four years was really hard,” Haney said.
Getting back to what the team loves to do most, the women were more than ecstatic to finish last week’s meet setting four new school records.
The women went about their usual morning routines before a meet. However, Haney said there was something different about preparing for this competition.
“This was a tough one. We had to be at the school at 6:15 a.m. so it was really early,” Haney said. “Emily Newcomb decided she wanted to do a hype circle before the meet. I think there were only nine of us there because of injuries, but we all manifested what we wanted and got really excited for it.”
Haney said her only goal for the meet was to break her past time. Not only did she accomplish her goal, she established a new school record with her 10th place finish in the 200-meter. She crossed the line with a time of 28.64 seconds.
“I was sitting and waiting for the results online thinking how good that race felt. We were on the bus and I was in the process of sending videos of the meet to my teammates and everyone kept asking me if I checked the times yet, but I hadn’t,” Haney said. “So then I finally looked and I got so excited. I double checked and looked at the record set before I checked my time and I couldn’t believe it.”
Haney said everyone was feeling extremely positive after the competition and no one expected to have four teammates break school records in one meet.
She said the ride home consisted of conversations and congratulations for their performances and accomplishments.
Sophomore Emily Newcomb established a new school record in the 800-meter with her fourth-place finish with a time of 2:36.78. Freshman Olivia Yancey placed fifth in the shot put with a school record toss of 9.01-meters, and sophomore Elizabeth Dykstra established a new school record with her third-place finish in the 400-meter run.
Haney said the hype circle was a positive way to start the day and get everyone pumped and energized for the meet at such an early time in the morning.
She said her continued love of the sport comes from coach VanderMolen, who has been a coach and staff member at FSU for the past seven years.
“He’s very understanding of all situations. When he creates a workout, he’ll make one that fits everybody’s style. The amount of time and work he puts into the team motivating us is ridiculous. I think he should be coaching Division I,” Haney said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better college coach.”
Haney added how proud she is to represent FSU, participate on a close-knit team, and belong to an encouraging team who offers support to each other.
This is her first year as captain and Haney said despite being the leader and teaching her teammates how to work certain skills, she has learned some of the biggest life lessons from her team. She added it has helped her look at situations with a more open mind in the real world seeing everyone having a different style of learning.
“I hope I gave them things to learn from. But I have learned so much from them and I’m very grateful for that,” she said.
While the Rams look to close out the season on Sunday, May 2 at the MASCAC Championships hosted by Westfield State University, Haney left some words of encouragement for future members of the team and students attending FSU.
“Especially if you are going to play a sport, you will learn time management very quickly,” Haney said. “Know that school comes first, but at the same time, you need time in your schedule to have a break or relaxing day here and there because if you push too hard you’re going to drive yourself crazy.”