St. John’s track having a season for the ages

A deep Red Storm roster has one goal on the season, ‘Eugene in 15’

Carmine Carcieri, Staff Writer

The women’s track and field program has always had their fair share of success at St. John’s under Jim Hurt but this season has become impressive because of the special group of student-athletes that look to improve on their past seasons.

“We have a collection of young ladies that are serious, talented, highly successful, disciplined and prepared,” said coach Hurt, who is in his 26th year as head coach of Red Storm, said. “They are great student-athletes who work hard and maintain a high level of focus.”

The team has already put together a critical program boosting finish as they came out on top in the Metropolitan Indoor Championships after three straight years as runner-ups. The Red Storm has shown a true team effort so far this season, as six seniors, junior Pariis Garcia and rising star junior Stephanie Van Pelt have led them to national prominence in the Big East.

“Garcia has ran some great times in multiple events and Stephanie [Van Pelt] has really progressed,” coach Hurt said. “It’s really a testament to how hard the student-athletes work.”

Van Pelt, who has stepped up to be a difference-maker this season, has felt that both her and her teammates are getting better week-by-week.

“I’m getting used to the training,” Van Pelt said. “Coach always says it’s a two-year process and I think it’s finally starting to click for me.”

As the brutal winter weather becomes a thought of the past, the outdoor track and field season is starting to help a roster that has depth and ability in every event from long distance running to throwing events.

“We are actually better outside than inside,” coach Hurt said. “So when we get back on that track we are looking for consistent work. We are a very unique team because we have a full roster. We can score in a lot of different events, which puts us in a great position to come out on top.”

The Big East Conference is competitive as ever and is loaded with talent from top to bottom (Georgetown and Providence are some of the top schools) but St. John’s certainly has the firepower to match those squads. The confidence that has been instilled after a third place finish in the Big East Indoor Championships is critical to a strong second half of the season where the ladies expect to make a run.

“The goal is always to win,” Van Pelt said. “Every year [Coach Hurt] makes up a slogan. This year it’s ‘Eugene 15’ as in NCAAs. It’s important that we continue to make progress so we can achieve this goal.”

And as the team heads down to Georgia and Jacksonville in the coming weeks, there is one goal in mind.

“We want to be at the top of the podium,” coach Hurt stated. “Not just in one event but in all the championships.”