Clevenger Blog: Margaret Simmons Invitational
Thursday, April 11, 2013
By John Clevenger
Clevenger Blog: Margaret Simmons Invitational

As the Lipscomb track and field teams prepare for the Boston Moon Classic and Ole Miss Invite John Clevenger's blog this week takes a look back at the Margaret Simmons Invitation at Murray State last weekend.

The Lipscomb Track & Field teams split again into two parties. One team left for Arizona early on Thursday morning while the other departed Saturday morning for Kentucky. It is difficult at times to be separated from those that we practice with once competition comes, but we must drive on in order to secure victories and impressive finishes.

While one squad traveled to the sunny and tenured facilities at Arizona State University, I attended the inaugural track meet at Murray State.

Murray State is in eastern Kentucky. It was a shorter two-hour bus trip; at least, compared to the nine-hour drive to conference in Jacksonville, Fla. We left at 6 a.m. Saturday, and competitions were beginning almost as soon as we arrived. The first event up was my event, the javelin throw. Being that Murray State was hosting their first ever home track meet, they had a fantastic track facility. Unfortunately, they did not house the greatest field event areas.

Generally, there is a javelin runway extending from or through the track itself. It is usually comprised of the same surface as the track and it flows onto a flat grassy field where competitors are instructed to toss their implements.

Murray’s track was built around their football field, which is a turf field, so it was not possible for the javelin, hammer, or discus throwers to compete without damaging the synthetic field. What were we to do? Well, we hopped on a bus, and we were driven about two miles away to a small park where we were instructed to throw in the grass field. Normally, javelin throwers compete on a flat track surface that provides spring, resistance, and stability. This time we were throwing on mud, uphill, and with crooked sector lines. IT WAS FUN!

I did not initially realize the incline of the field until I began my footwork to throw and found that I was running uphill. This meant that I was running slower and that the javelin would be landing sooner than desired. With all of this in mind, I believe that the javelin throwers were able to just kick back, relax, and just throw because it was not the kind of conditions in which we could maximize our best personal marks. We were just out there to compete, and we did.

The rest of the meet was going on by the time the bus brought us back to the track. We saw our teammates getting win after win at this meet, and we were probably the most noticed fans as well, because we were cheering so loud and we were cheering with such pride for our Bisons.

Several competitors from other teams were asking me about why we were cheering so vigorously, and I told them, “It’s just what we love to do.” And why wouldn’t we? We were setting personal bests all over the meet, and taking home a couple of top performances as well!

It was one of the most exciting meets that I have been a part of here at Lipscomb. I think we owe a lot of our success to the low-pressure atmosphere of the meet.

Our Kentucky group was in such high spirits all day. We were so cheerful because not only were we dominating the meet, but the meet itself was flying by! Usually, a track meet can last from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m.

But this time we had our first event at 11 a.m. and we were on the bus before 4 p.m. We were going to get to go back to school, relax, get some homework done, and just take a break.

It’s hard being a student-athlete sometimes. You have to be a student all week, and then you volunteer to give away your weekends to compete all of the time. The concept of “free-time” is almost a non-issue because you just don’t have any. So when we got on the bus to return to Lipscomb’s campus, you wouldn’t believe the cheering and level of energy that the team was producing. Our sprints coach, Marcus Evans, got on the bus’s intercom and announced that we were going home, and there was an explosion of ovations coming from the athletes!

When you’re on a bus, there isn’t that much to do. The energy level dwindled down a bit. We put in a movie, The Hobbit. While we watched the movie, everyone in our group was trying to text someone from the other group to find out how we were doing in Arizona.

The coaches keep a pretty good line of Twitter and Facebook updates with live results and finishes, but it’s sometimes just more exciting to hear about someone’s marks from the person who made them. We were texting each other and calling one another the entire ride home.

Congratulations were shared from both the eastern and western parts of the United States. The Bisons are really starting to make their presence known at the national level for track & field. People can hear the stampede coming, but I don’t think they’re ready for what we’re bringing. Can’t wait for the conference this year guys!