By Cullen McIntyre, Sports Editor
Winning has become a habit over the past couple years for USM’s Men’s Indoor Track & Field team. Having won the last three Little Eastern Conference (LEC) Men’s Indoor Track & Field Championships, it was only a matter of time until the team began to push for national recognition in Division III.
The team did just that this season, reaching the 10th spot in the Division III U.S Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. The Huskies have competed in four meets this year, finishing third in three of them and first in the Reggie Poyau Invitational at Brandeis University. The event hosted eight colleges, with USM winning the meet with 158 points.
The Men’s Indoor Track & Field team is always ready to compete and was ready for the national ranking.
“I think our goal is to always improve. We have to find motivation in something else, since the past several years we have won the conference title in a row. We are moving toward the next goal, which for a lot of us might be the New England Championship,” said junior exercise science and indoor track and field athlete Cam Labrie, “I think competing at a national level is a goal of ours. It hasn’t been directly said, but we have the attitude and goal of national recognition when we train.”
Labrie is from Tamworth, NH, and is in his second year with the team as a sprinter. When asked about how being ranked 10th nationally in Division III affects the individual and team mentality as a whole he said, “We get ranked on a lot of individual performances, there are guys on the team like myself who are not individually ranked. But knowing that we are training with guys who are that good and who could be considered elite is great and really motivating. Individually it’s very motivating because you’re competing against the other teams and want to be as good as them at the same time.”
Being ranked nationally as a team is something the team is enjoying, but also letting motivate them to be even better, “As a team it’s more of a yes and a no. Yes it’s cool to know that we are ranked 10th in Division III nationally, and knowing our hard work is paying off. A lot of us love the recognition because not many people know what USM even is and we’re putting ourselves on the map,” he said. “But it doesn’t really affect us in the daily grind. I think if we were ranked 10th or dead last I think every single guy on the team would work just as hard. We’re gonna work hard regardless.”
Mentality and hard work has never been an issue for the Men’s Indoor Track & Field team, as they have continued to grind through a long season. Though being ranked nationally is an achievement many college athletes hope to achieve, the Huskies are not celebrating anything yet. “We’ve recognized that we have been ranked nationally, it’s cool, but we don’t celebrate until we get our ultimate goal. Goals like winning the conference, winning New England’s and if we get top 10 at national’s which is really where it counts then there will be celebrations. But at the moment we haven’t celebrated, right now we’re just grinding. That’s what we do,” said Labrie.
Labrie himself has been apart of a 4×400 relay team that has been recognized as the Little Eastern Conference Relay of the Week four times this season and the winning relay at Reggie Poyau Invitational earlier this year. When asked about the mindset of being apart of such a successful relay team he said “It’s kind of a race against yourself. Each person wants to do better and that relay I think is currently ranked 17th in the country right now. We have so many guys who are good, and it’s an honor to be apart of such a good relay. Each guy wants to show how well they can run and want to run well for the team. The mindset is to show how good USM is, and to have a relay team at nationals that only has 12 teams from the country just shows how much depth and quality we have.”
As the end of the season approaches, the Men’s Indoor Track & Field will look to continue their winning mentality into the Little Eastern Conference and New England Alliance Championships this Saturday, Feb. 16 at Plymouth State University. The Huskies are hoping to win their fourth consecutive Conference Championship, and bring their success to the NCAA Division III Championships March 8 and 9.