Feature story

Running to be conference champions, Piedmont Colleges track and field teams and coaches slowed to down talk about their season.

The track and field teams at Piedmont College are coached by head coach Jeff Jenkins and assistant coaches Taylor Browning and Brain Gawne. Jenkins has been a coach for 11 years but has been at Piedmont for the last five, ever since the track and field program was started. This year is Piedmont’s first year in the USA South conference. Due to NCAA Division II teams dropping down to the USA South conference, the conference commissioner proposed that they add track and field with their own conference championship.

Prior to being in the USA South conference, coach Jenkins said, “We created what we call the Atlantic independent track and field championships. That was a good start for us.”

The Atlantic Independent track and field championships were held in Fayetteville, North Carolina at Methodist University. The following year they were held in Berea, Kentucky at Berea College. Being in the Atlantic Independent Conference the past two years, allowed Piedmont’s track and field to be prepared when their time came for USA South.

When the outdoor season starts, the team has eight weeks to be able to have meets. The NCAA requires them to participate in seven meets leading up to the conference championship. In order to be as successful as the track team has been this year, they focused a lot on rest and recovery. This helped them get through the rigorous seven weeks before the championship.

“We were thinking about our bodies, listening to our bodies.” Killian McClain, a junior thrower said. ”That was the biggest thing, if your body wasn’t feeling it, you shouldn’t be doing it.”

 Rest is just as important as training for these athletes.

“We rested.” coach Jenkins said. “One of our philosophies we have in our program is train hard, recover harder.”

Resting and training hard in their season and off season has been the key for Piedmont’s track and field team. This has ultimately led them to the conference championship that was this past week, April 18th and 19th in Berea, Kentucky.

“We competed less than a week before conference which we typically don’t like to do,” said coach Jenkins.

However, being well rested going into the weekend, helped lead both the men’s and women’s teams to victory.

“Our coaches were always there to listen and made sure everyone was happy.” Karla Cantrell, a sophomore runner said. “They knew we were going to be the best prepared team at conference and with that we would win a ring and we did.”

Coach Jenkins, Browning and Gawne all prepared their athletes properly for the conference championship with the feeling of winning it all.

“It’s important we’re fresh going into the championship.” said coach Jenkins.

That is exactly what the track team did going into the championship. Both the men’s and women’s teams came out on top with championship wins. Piedmont’s track and field teams started off in a conference a few years ago not knowing if they would become a part of USA South and this season, they won it all in the first official year in USA South.

“This has been incredible to go from that to this,” said coach Jenkins.

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