The BJU men’s and women’s track and field teams are starting the spring semester season by splitting into two sections, short sprint and distance sprint, with new assistant coach Ken Roach joining to coach short sprint.
Roach has coaching experience training at a track club, co-founding Carolina Homeschool Cross Country and Track and Field Program in Spartanburg and coaching at Spartanburg Methodist College. He said, “I really buy into [Bob Jones University] and what it does and the consistency of its values.”
He said the biggest challenge of track is unifying the team with one common goal. “[I want the team] buying into the individuality [of the sport] and also connecting it to that team aspect,” Roach said. “God’s created our bodies to have massive amount of potential—physically, mentally, and spiritually.” Through consistent work, that potential becomes developed, even in the area of track.
Emma Landry, a freshman childhood development major, is in her first semester of track. Landry said, “[Coach Roach and I] are trying to take the season to figure out where I want to be, where I’m at, what I want to focus on.”
Landry said Coach Roach focuses more on teaching technical aspects of running, like form, instead of just sending the team out on a run. She said her philosophy is to trust her coach and the system, keep working hard and have a good attitude.
Landry said her coach has been teaching her that she must train her twitch muscles, specific skeletal muscles, to have quick energy bursts. Unlike short sprint, distance sprint trains the slow twitch muscles to contain energy for longer periods of time. Short sprint trains fast twitch muscles for speed.
While assistant coach Roach oversees short sprint, head coach Landon Bright oversees the distance sprint for track. The short sprint includes long jump, triple jump, 100-meter, 200-meter, relays, hurdles and long hurdles. Distance sprinters usually do anywhere from 800 meter to a 5k, steeplechase or relay.
The short sprint focuses more on building strength, for example strength workouts with running. The distance sprint works on endurance sprinting, especially by sprinting multiple sets of repeats. Repeats are short distance sprints done at faster-than-race-pace tempo multiple times for building speed-endurance.
Jessie Heath, a graduate student, is starting in her first semester of track for distance sprint, though she ran for cross country all four years. Heath was injured every track season during her undergrad. She planned to run track her last semester of undergrad in spring 2020 but because of the shutdown, she wasn’t able to.
Because she returned for grad school, Heath can fulfill her dream of running track like her dad did in college. Heath thanks the Lord for this opportunity she thought she had lost. Heath said, “I love the challenging aspect of [track] because Coach [Bright] pushes you to the limit.”
Heath also appreciates the relationship between the women and men on the distance team. “Out of all the teams that we have at [Bob Jones University] I feel like our teams are the closest with the girls and guys because we constantly work out together…we travel together… we have that whole family relationship.”