What it takes to be a DII Track and Field athlete

Della Babcock, Staff Reporter

The track athletes at CWU train year round to compete successfully in their events. Athletes competing in a variety of different events all aspire to be both mentally and physically fit in order to succeed when meet day comes. 

Junior Bobby Widmar explained what it takes to reach this level.

“You’ve got to be dedicated, disciplined and motivated,” Widmar said. 

Widmar is both an indoor and outdoor track competitor. He focuses specifically on sprints. Widmar has been competing in track for 10 years and strives to better himself every day in his own personal events as well as the relays he competes in. 

Widmar tore his hamstring and had to fully relearn how to sprint. Widmar is proud of the progress he has made and the work he has put in. He focuses on the mental aspect of the sport so he can pin down mental traits that determine how well he does when race day comes. 

“Being confident and owning the show is a good mindset to have,” Widmar said. “I try to carry that with me every track meet.” 

Widmar has competed against a variety of track athletes including athletes at the DI level.  He believes that is one of the most fun parts about being a track athlete at this level. 

“I think it’s just fun to compete against everybody,” Widmar said. “It’s cool that I also get the opportunity to be on that stage.” 

Courtesy of Lauren Orr

Sophomore Meagan Smallbeck, who competes in throwing events, said her events are similar to sprinting events because they also take mental and physical strength to compete. Due to how throwing events are structured, athletes get three attempts when competing for the results they want. Smallbeck said starting off with a bad throw could put a block in an athlete’s mental game. 

Smallbeck believes throwing is 70% mental. She had to overcome nervousness she used to deal with when competing in her high school career. But now, competing at the collegiate level, Smallbeck feels she has overcome the difficulties she encountered mentally in the past and now has a stronger mental game than ever before. 

“I come into every meet now knowing I’m one of the top dogs and can outcompete a lot of people,” Smallbeck said. “It’s paid off.” 

Smallbeck finds a lot of joy in having the opportunity to compete against top level athletes across divisions at certain meets. Smallbeck said beating DI athletes is an insane feeling. 

“When you have a good meet, you are beating Pac-12 schools,” Smallbeck said. “It’s insane that I was able to do that.” 

One thing Smallbeck really focuses on throughout her track career is simply loving the sport itself. 

“You are training for this sport year round,” Smallbeck said. “If you don’t love it, you are going to get burnt out. So loving and having the discipline for it, is definitely a huge thing.”

Another athlete who trains throughout the year is junior Trevor Allen. Allen partakes in distance events for CWU. On top of training his body to be able to run distance races, he strives to stay focused while doing it. Allen’s mental game primarily revolves around trying to stay focused for long periods of time in long distance races, which he said is difficult at times. Allen is continuously reminding himself he can get through the event, mentally breaking down the race. 

“I take it lap by lap, every step I just take one at a time.” Allen said. “It’s all part of a big process and there’s a bigger picture at the end. So I train for that.”

There are two other big things Allen believes are important traits to have when you are a distance runner at this level: patience and time management. This is due to being a student athlete on top of having to train seven days a week. 

Allen is proud of some of the accomplishments he reached in his fall season. He was ranked top 10 in the conference for the first time.

“I had a lot of fun doing that,” Allen said. ”And just being able to train with all my teammates has been awesome.” 

This weekend the track and field team will be competing at the NCAA DII Last Chance Qualifier before taking some athletes to Birmingham, Alabama on March 13-14 for the NCAA DII Indoor Championships.