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Women’s track making it in record books
February 23, 2019
Despite having a big new group of newcomers, the women’s track and field team are already breaking into the Nicholls top 10 of all-time.
Troynae Walker, Joyce Kiplagat and Francesca Curteis have all manage to achieve history breaking results in their latest meet at Samford Open.
Head Coach Stefanie Slekis said that although they might be a new group of freshmen and transfers, they are really excited about the progress that they’ve made.
“I think that we brought in a lot of freshmen that can make an impact at Nicholls and develop a strong program,” Slekis said. “The goal was to kind of start clicking away at those top 10 of all-time marks as we try to be more competitive in the Southland Conference, so we’re really excited where we are at, heading into the indoor conference meet, but this was kind of the goal all along for the season.”
Curteis, a senior, began her Nicholls athletic career in women’s soccer. She decided to switch to track and field due to her running capabilities.
Slekis said that Curteis is a fighter by nature and that the decision of having her do the long-distance instead of mid-distance event was the right choice.
“I think that Frankie just enjoys pushing herself and being an athlete. She is just a competitive person,” Slekis said. “This season, we have been trying to figure out what event she would enjoy. A lot of soccer women normally race more mid-distance, it is kind of what the most ends up being, but Frankie actually really enjoys the long distances.”
Curteis said she attributes her success to her teammates, who encourage her to push herself and become the best that she can be.
“I think as teammates we make each other better, we push each other. If I can manage to follow my teammate [long distance runner] Joyce Kiplagat, I know that will help me push myself to be faster in the end, so we kind of just lean upon each other’s strengths,” Curteis said.
Also, Curteis said Slekis has been a great motivator for the team, making them believe that they can beat their personal bests.
“[Coach Slekis] is always good to help us through the tough moments and she knows what it takes to make us break our personal bests. I think last race was a proof to that,” Curteis said.
Another long distance runner, sophomore Joyce Kiplagat, managed to break in as the no. 9 of all time program history and, according to her, the success comes from hard work and having good teammates.
“I think the reason [to our success] is the training and Coach Slekis giving us the right workouts and also as a whole have good teammates, that you are in a good environment,” Kiplagat said.
Furthermore, Kiplagat said she and Curteis work together on the long distance event, pushing and supporting each other when the nerves appear.
“Me and Francesca motivate each other. We are the only two long distance runners so every time we are together we just help each other, tell each other ‘you can do it.’ Before our last race, we were so nervous and we just motivated each other to push through,” Kiplagat said.
Slekis said although some of the team is doing really well, she thinks there is room for development as it takes time for freshman to adjust to their new environment.
“We have a lot of excitement and a lot of success, but I also think that some people aren’t quite where we would hope they would be. But we are mostly freshmen, so we need a little more time to develop. There are a lot of challenges of being in a new place, a new school,” Slekis said.
Soon the outdoor season will start, so Slekis said the team will try to improve and hopefully continue breaking into the top 10’s at Nicholls. She said the goal is to be more competitive in the Southland Conference overall.
”If we keep improving and reaching the all-time top 10 marks, we will start to be more competitive in the conference,” Slekis said. “For outdoor, we will get back to work again and every time we have an opportunity to go and work on that top 10, then we will use that as our big goal-setter. If you can be the number 4 best at Nicholls, well then you know getting to be the top 8 in the conference meet down the road seems more achievable.
Keep up with the team as they compete in the Southland Indoor Championships from Feb. 24 to Feb. 25.