Radford University Director of Track and Field and Cross Country, Shelli Sayers, took the moment to sit down and give an insight of the team’s preparation for the upcoming 2024 Track & Field schedule.
Last season, numerous Highlanders found themselves achieving personal bests as well as some adding their name to Radford’s record book such as Dezmajia Carter, Raichelle Cornelius, Rachel Millirons, Jaslyne Robinson, Sophomore Sophie Magson, and Senior Chloe Wellings, earned a podium finish at the 2023 Big South Indoor Championships. With all these women returning, Sayers had a lot of positive notes on the team and her excitement for the upcoming season.
Q: What are your overall thoughts and feelings headed into the 2024 season?
A: We are very excited. A majority of the team that scored is returning so it feels like we have maximized our potential. I am looking forward to seeing the next step and moving forward throughout the season with this team of incredible young women.
Q: How do you feel after your opening meet at Liberty?
A: Good. It was hard because the whole team was not together due to the overlap of cross country we did not have our distance team so we were not at full strength. However, I feel confident where we started and know there is room for improvement in certain areas.
Q: What motivates the team and the coaches?
A: The team motivates each other by being there for one another. When one person does well, it sparks the team. They feed off each other, especially being such a young team. They are also on a mission to prove themselves. Everybody counts out Radford because we are solely a women’s program so our mission is to always put people in the way. What motivates me is I am a competitive person. I have high expectations not about places and times, rather how the team represents themselves and the program. As a mother of two girls, they are great role models for my daughters. I want to be the best coach for them because they are putting their heart and soul into this program.
Q: What has surprised you the most about your team this season?
A: That is a really good question… I think it is still to be determined. Right now, I am pleasantly surprised seeing how the younger women are stepping into leadership roles. We do not have the traditional captains, especially with a young team, so it is nice to see how so many of them are stepping up. I definitely look forward to seeing this season unfold.
Q: What was your reaction to our third place vote in the Big South preseason poll?
A: I was honestly surprised to see us third. It is going to be a challenge to achieve this , but we do have the athletes and mentality to be a third place team. They don’t back down from any challenge. As a group we have talked about what it will take to achieve third place as well as the goals we need to achieve to put us in a good place.
Q: How are you feeling after a successful cross country season regarding the overlap of those athletes?
A: I am very impressed with the way the women ran all year. Overall, when you go back and look at the season you can pick out pretty incredible moments such as so many women putting their name in the history book. This is overall one of the best teams that has come into the program. We are in an excellent spot. Everybody ran faster which leads us to believe they will take that step forward on the track as well.
Q: How does this team compare to previous seasons?
A: They are younger than most. However, there are some upperclassmen who can lead the way. A majority of the team is now seasoned and fired up and ready to come back. They also now understand the conference and what makes a successful season.
Q: Where do you see the most progress on and off the track?
A: Off the track, these women are consistently awesome in the classroom. Academics are now an important piece. The expectations not only come from the coaches, but the student athletes have high expectations for themselves. On the track, distance has taken a step forward. They are progressing in the mental sense, the communication between athlete and coaches is constant and they are more willing to talk about all parts of being a successful student athlete.
The women return to action this Friday and Saturday (Jan 19-20) at Liberty’s 4th Annual Brant Tolsma Invitational.
Radford University Athletics