Thursday, February 11, 2010

Track & Field Seniors Help Build An Established Program

Here's my latest article for The Collegiate Times

The Virginia Tech track and field program recently surpassed the mere average squads of the Atlantic Coast Conference to become an elite and established team.

Four years ago, senior hurdler Kristi Castlin chose to come to Tech following a successful high school career in Georgia. When Castlin signed with the Hokies, the program had not yet become established in the ACC after recently switching conferences from the Big East.

“I wanted to come here and help build an elite program,” Castlin said. “It was important to me to be a part of something like this.”

According to track and field director Dave Cianelli, Castlin, along with fellow seniors Asia Washington and Queen Harrison, has done just that.

“Kristi, Queen and Asia have really helped develop our program into one of the more successful ones over the past few seasons in the ACC,” Cianelli said. “Their success has generated interest from more and more prospective student athletes for the future of our program.”

Castlin’s improvements this season have not gone unnoticed from her coaches.

“Kristi has really stepped up her training program this year,” said Charles Foster, the sprints, hurdles and jumps coach. “When I first got here, we had a meeting together, laying out my expectations for the program and how I needed her to be a leader. At first, I don’t think she was accepting with the changes (as some of her teammates were), but now she’s really come around to the philosophy of the program.”

Castlin competes in all of the hurdle events but specializes in the sprinting events such as the 60-meter and 100-meter hurdles where she has earned All-America honors. She has been earning All-America honors since her freshman year.

“Those races are so short you have to block out everything you’re thinking about before the race and just sprint as fast as you possibly can,” Castlin said.

Castlin has also taken a larger role as a leader for her fellow sprinters and hurdlers this season, primarily with her actions rather than her words.

“I try to lead by example, otherwise I’ll be talking to (someone) until I’m blue in the face,” Castlin said.

“The way she performs during practices and meets really sets an example for all of her teammates,” Cianelli said. “They take notice of her and of the success she’s had.”

While at Tech, Castlin’s success has gone beyond the track. She has also been recognized as a member of the ACC-All Academic team in 2007 and 2009.

With both the academic success and her talent on the track, Castlin has her options open. She wants to attend graduate school following graduation this May, and Tech is one of the schools she’s considering to continue her education.

Castlin also plans to try to pursue a career as a professional when her collegiate eligibility is complete.

“When her eligibility is up, if she’s continuing to work as hard as she is this season, then she has a shot at turning pro, but it depends on her work ethic,” Foster said.

For now, Castlin is looking forward to the spring season and wants to have her best season to close out her senior year. She also wants to win two prestigious titles she’s been wanting her whole career.

“I really want to win a NCAA title as well as a title at the Penn Relays,” she said. “I just really want to run as fast as I ever have.”

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