Barking up the right tree
author: nathan mccarville | sports writer
Track and field team return with success from sled dog meet
The University of Regina track and field team returned successfully from the annual Sled Dog Meet, hosted in Saskatoon. Top among the Cougars, third-year Greg Hetterley was able to bring back two first-place finishes in the event. Hetterley was able to win first place with his time of 2:29.43, a mere .47 seconds faster than the second place finisher, Eric Lutz of the University of Calgary in the 1000-meter race. Hetterley then competed in the 1500-meter race the next day, finishing with a first place time at 3:57.71, 4.84 seconds ahead of the second place finisher Alexander Bouferguene of the University of Alberta Golden Bears.
Another Cougar, Regan Fedak, took a first place finish in the weight throw event with 15.6 meters being her finishing mark. Fedak’s finish was an entire meter ahead of the second place, another member of the Cougar’s track and field team who scored 14.60 meters in the event, Brooke Shatkowski. Shatkowski was able to beat third place finisher Emmarae Dale by .17 meters, making the event almost purely consisting of Cougars in the top echelon of the weight throw event.
Michaela Allen was able to finish in the top three of two events during the meet as well, placing second in the 300-meter dash with a finishing time of 41.47 seconds. Allen also had a third place finish in the 600-meter race with a time of 1:33.87, finishing at only 1.64 seconds behind the first place finisher.
I was able to get into contact with Hetterley and talk about the results of the meet, as he described his experience at this year’s meet.
How do you feel about the results of the Sled Dog Meet? Did you feel that there was any adversity you had to overcome over the course of the track and field meet?
“It felt incredible to have two solid performances at Sled Dog. The 1000m was the first event and I took a big risk at just over half way to push the pace and try to run away from everyone. It worked. After accomplishing that the next day felt more relaxed. The second day was the 1500 and that is my stronger event. With the confidence I received the day prior I was able to run with purpose. I didn’t get the time I wanted but it was a good indicator for what was to come. It gave me the confidence to perform well at our most recent meet in Edmonton, the Golden Bear Open. I won the 1500 and set and new school record.”
Has pacing ever been an issue for you in training or a previous event?
The 1000m is a weird race in that it is really quick. It’s a middle distance race, which means fast and long. So I typically try to maybe go out a little fast the first lap to get the feel of things and then settle into a pace I will try and hold for the remainder. This race was an exception because the two Alberta runners that got to the front put the brakes on and slowed everyone down. It was then a waiting game for whoever was going to break first.
Finishing .47 seconds ahead of the second place finisher, do you recall your position in the race the moment you decided to break away from the pack?
I was in fourth place with just over 400m (2 laps of the 200m indoor track) when I decided I needed to go now. I didn’t want to leave it any longer than that based on the quality of the others in the race. Some of those guys were coming up in distance, as they tend to focus on the 600m, which means they have great sprint speed, whereas I was coming down from being a 1500m runner. I had to outlast them rather than let it come to a last second sprint.
What can you say about the all-around success of the Cougars at the meet and their ability to secure second and third place finishes throughout the Sled Dog Meet?
The all around success of the team is a good sign. The team is made up of a majority of first- to third-years. By track standards we are a very young team and the success that everyone had sets us up well for the future.
Do you have anything to say about the dynamic where someone is able to completely control the pace of a group of runners in a race?
The race can really change depending on who is in the lead. In middle distance running position is key because of a lot of tight corners and short straightaways. Passing also requires energy that the majority of racers want to save until the end.
How much of an effect is the leader of the group able to influence the dynamic of the race by quickening or slowing the pace? Has there ever been a time where the leader has been able to tire another runner out to an extent where the other runner’s ability to compete is greatly reduced?
A leader can run hard from the beginning, which burns out the other runners. It’s risky because most of the time the leader will burn out. By going slow and doing surges mid-race, the leader can also tire out the others. A lot of bursts of speed will physically and mentally mess with the others.
Two previous cougar athletes, Kelly Wiebe and Matt Johnson, were notorious for going to the front and pushing the pace on everyone. It’s because they didn’t have the greatest speed, but they could maintain better than everyone else. Some people wouldn’t even try to go with them. They would let them run away from the field because if you did go with them, you were going to feel the pain. That is definitely not my style of doing things, but I am becoming less afraid of going to the front after watching them throughout the years.