February 2, 2004 - Wesley Thomas
So here it was, our first full-squad meet. It was just a little dual meet with Sewanee, so it wasn't that big a deal. I always like these scrawny Sewanee meets because there's not a lot of pressure and you can still do well.
The bus trips aren't bad, either. I've been in worse. The week before, when we went to East Tennessee State, we got lost somewhere in North Carolina. Whoever drove that van was definitely lost in some other train of thought, but that's another story.
Meanwhile, bus trips are fun because they give you a chance to bond with people you may have never seen before, like freshmen. As a senior, I want to know everybody just in case I want to talk about somebody. But I digress.
The meet was pretty interesting. Emory completely dominated it; it seemed like Sewanee had about 10 folks competing against our many more. All of our people did well, as a matter of fact.
For the first full-squad meet, I was impressed with the freshmen's performances. They did much better than I did when I started out three years ago.
Our track team is like one big family. We get along great and although doing well is a big priority on everyone's list, so is getting along.
In an effort to not sound sappy, I think it's our trust and comfort with each other that allows us to do well. That's probably why we do so well for a Division III team. Overall, I thought Sewanee was a good place for us to start off the year.
Personally, I was impressed with my own beginning marks, even though it seems like I'm always in somebody's shadow. But I figure that with a little more time and work, I'll be the one who people look at and pay attention to. Until then...
February 9, 2004 - Jeffrey Sprock
Last week marked another away meet, this time at the Christopher Newport Invitational for which we got to travel by plane. Away meets are always fun trips because they give us a lot of time to get to know our teammates better, and a chance to go to areas of the country we have never been to before.
Once Sunday morning finally rolled around after a nice relaxing travel day, we traveled to the track and had breakfast. The meet was a huge success in every aspect in that we had a great showing, the meet was well planed, and the flight up there and back went smoothly.
This meet saw Brian Platt in the 600m, T.J. Jennings in the 400m, Adam Brunfeldt in the mile, Rob Bullard in the high jump, and Josh Heiber in the weight throw dominate their individual events with some of their season's best performances.
This week, we return to Sewanee, Tennessee, where we will compete against the University of the South, Belmont, Oglethorpe, Alabama-Huntsville, West Georgia, Tennessee Tech, and Fisk. This should provide many of us a great chance to see how much we have progressed since our last trip to Sewanee in January.
On a different note, one of the many exciting things that our program is seeing right now is the roof renovation project of the Woodruff Physical Education Center. The project began last December, and upon its completion will provide Emory's athletes with many new facilities.
The only downside to this project is that all of the construction makes it difficult for us to host home track meets. Thankfully though, the project is slated to be completed towards the end of this summer.
February 16, 2004 - Andrew Seidenberg
With UAAs fast approaching, practices have become more intense and difficult. For many athletes, last week included some of the toughest workouts of the year. The recent training has been both mentally and physically exhausting.
However, with personal and team ambitions on the back of everyone's mind, complemented with the musical flows of JAWOL (John's Arriving With Opening Lines), we all persevered through the formidable week.
For those who don't already know, JAWOL, a.k.a. senior sprinter John Pitts, recently recorded his debut album. The record features 80 minutes of new-original hip-hop music and includes the hit singles "Spiritual Mentality," "Looking for a Queen," and "Mothers of the Earth."
JAWOL himself has not been coy about informing everyone involved in Emory's track community, as well as athletes on competing teams, about his project. I know I speak for most in saying that much of this year's success on the track can be attributed to the lyrical inspirations and "Chi-town flavor" of JAWOL.
As we look ahead to UAA indoor championships and the two remaining meets, at the University of Tennessee and Clemson University, we are all still focused on the goals we each set at the start of the season. With the hard work put forth, such as last week, and a little musical stimulation (JAWOL), we become one step closer to realizing our aspirations.
February 23, 2004 - Andrew Seidenberg
There are not many indoor tracks located within the southeast United States, mainly because of the mild winters we experience. While snow is rare and short sleeve shirts are common in February, we end up traveling every weekend to indoor track meets. However, because other track teams and athletes in our region are faced with the same challenge of finding a nearby indoor track, it is very common for us to race against many top athletes.
Last weekend we competed at the University of Tennessee. Not only does Tennessee have one of the top track programs in the nation, they have one of the most interesting tracks I have ever seen.
Unlike other indoor tracks on which we have competed, which are built inside arenas that house other sports, the indoor track at Tennessee is solely used for track and field. Additionally, the complex is enormous and seats several hundreds of spectators.
The track itself was impressive as was the competition. Many of Tennessee's top sprinters and field athletes competed. As did Tom Pappas, who is currently the world's top decathlete. We also witnessed Tim Mack clear 18 ft. in the pole vault.
Clearly we are not necessarily competing against these world-class athletes, and instead are competing against a time or a mark. However it is always very inspiring to see such talent in person.
March 1, 2004 - Jeffrey Sprock
The best part about meets such as the Clemson Classic, which we attended last weekend, is that it gives each of us a chance to see how we stack up against numerous Division I athletes. At Clemson we had the opportunity to once again compete against world-class athletes, which provides many of us with motivation.
The Clemson meet marked our last indoor meet before the UAA Championships, which will be held in Cleveland, OH. The meet, which is being hosted by Case Western Reserve, will provide us with our first opportunity to compete against the many other schools in our athletic conference this year.
The end of the indoor track season, which is fast approaching, means a couple of things. One is that the UAA championships and NCAA national championships are here. Two is that we have a week or two to rest and/or heal before the outdoor season begins.
This break between the two seasons, however brief it may be, is always very nice because it gives us a little more preparation time for all of the extra outdoor events that we are not able to do early in the year due to constraints associated with the indoor season.
March 8, 2004 - Wesley Thomas
The indoor UAAs are the second-most exciting event we have to look forward to behind the outdoor UAAs, of course. So we were all pumped up Wednesday evening when classes were over and we were given an early "Spring Break."
Being able to represent the big EU in the championships was what got everybody excited. Missing classes on Thursday and Friday before the actual break was just gravy.
From the time we left Thursday morning (a miserable 6 a.m. departure) to the time we got back Saturday night (a manageable 10 pm), we knew that all the hard work we had been putting in for the past six months would pay off big time. So many things happened on this trip that I can't fit them all in here, but I'll do the best I can with what I got.
The trip there was just your average plane ride...bumpy, slow, blah, blah blah. Cleveland was unusually warm. We might as well have been back here in Atlanta.
Being the recently food-craving person, I found myself begging to eat every five minutes until we finally stopped to eat at Ryan's. I sat with my friends at a separate table from the team, not because we hate the team, but because there wasn't any more room! I had about 2,348,726 ribs, knowing that I had to run and jump the next day. Thank God it all got processed in time.
Getting to the hotel was also fun. It's always a coin toss to see who's gonna be in a room with whom. Imagine my surprise when I was placed with Brian "PLIZNATNUM" Platt and Rob "I DON'T NEED NOBODY TO TELL ME I'M THE BOMB" Bullard. They're good people, but as the oldest in that room, I still wonder why Rob the sophomore managed to get a bed to himself. Brian snores, by the way, and breathes hard, which is probably even more unnerving.
There was a banquet at Case Western that night for all the teams. I got to tell y'all it was pretty emotional to me. I don't know why, but I felt really...nice...at that banquet. I mean, it gave me a great feeling to sit there and know that I was part of one of the teams competing to win, but still managing to be friends with other schools.
The host school gave a presentation that lasted approximately 45 seconds, which was funny. They misspelled our coach's name. If y'all know who Coach John Curtis is, let me know. It was good times...oh what a wonderful night that was.
That night our team got ready to win UAAs the next two days. We conjured some team spirit with ninja-style headbands and a Super-Emory cape (which is hanging on my wall because it chose me). We didn't care because we were there to let everybody know who the real winners were.
The absolutely best part of the track meet was that virtually everybody on the team, guys and gals, ran personal bests on that track, despite the fact that it was polished with some sort of varnish that gave us headaches. That'll teach 'em to mess with us!
The next night, we ate at one of our teammate's homes, which is huge. The food was great, the personalized cookies were tasty, but the real treat that night was John Pitts' performance. He tore it up that night, which only pumped us up more for the last day of performing.
Speaking of which, we tore up the competition and won UAAs pretty easily. I'm just glad I was able to be a part of such a wonderful experience one last time.
Oh yes, it was my last indoor competition for Emory. How did I feel? To tell the truth, I was holding back tears at certain times because I didn't want to let anybody know I actually am capable of showing emotion. But think back to your high school days when you were doing something for the last time. That's how I felt. It's how I feel now. But the good thing about the indoor season is that you think it's over, but outdoor is yet to come.
Meanwhile, we got lost on our way back to the airport, probably because the people on my van were distracting Heather (who could've been a Power Ranger) with their shrill voices, trying to give renditions of songs from long ago. Andrew "HIGH KNEES" Seidenberg has the greatest voice I've ever heard. When y'all come to Emory, find him and pay him 97 cents to sing for you, like I did.
So, in closing this random chain of words, we won, I cried (to myself), we had good times, we ate (finally!), I'm home with a medal (bronze, which is decent), and we'll be back again for outdoor for one last win before I get out of here forever! EMORY EAGLES FLY!
P.S. By the way, I'm coming out with my dual album, "Shuttle Jamz/The DUC Album" in a week. For y'all prospects out there, e-mail me for a preview and then send $5 for your own SIGNED copy!!! And for $5 more, you can get John Pitts' CD, "JAWOL," as well. Hope to hear from y'all soon!!!
March 22, 2004 - Andrew Seidenberg
With the indoor UAA championship under our belt, outdoor season has approached with great anticipation. Due to the undersized track (which complicates sprinting curves and forces the distance runners to run close to 100 laps) and stuffy facilities of the indoor season, most of us actually prefer competing outdoors.
Additionally, with the outdoor season comes warm weather, one advantage we have over our UAA competition. Not to mention we have a well-rounded team looking to repeat our indoor success.
Despite what the schedule says, last weekend we ventured to Clemson to commence the 2004 outdoor season. We left bright and early Saturday morning at around 6:30 am, proving to the coaching staff we don't need the wake-up call system coach Heather devised, at least most of us don't.
The meet was mostly relays, with many NCAA Division I and III schools competing. The relay format was a fun way to start the outdoor season. I was able to run both the 4X100 and 4X200 relays, two events I normally don't run. Overall, the meet went quite well, despite the surprisingly cool weather.
Before leaving for Atlanta, we stopped at Western Sizzler for dinner. I don't know if its just me, but it seems like each week the post-meet dinners get better as the season progresses.
Also, for lunch we had our weekly Subway sandwiches. Any Emory track fan should really consider purchasing stock in Subway. The Emory track team will definitely keep them from going out of business.
April 5, 2004 - Wesley Thomas
Last weekend, our team got split up. Some of us went to Duke and some went to Sewanee.
I went to Duke with about 12 other people. It was basically the relays and a few distance people. I was particularly excited about going to Duke because I have a friend who attends there. We've been best friends since fifth grade. That's a long time.
The Duke meet was kind of weird because we didn't perform the way we expected, but we had a good time. I think all that pressure of going up against the big boys got the best of me, so I wasn't at my best. I still had fun competing against such good teams, though.
But I can't let y'all click anywhere else without letting y'all in on some funny stuff. Whether we perform well or not, something always happens behind the scenes that gets written in that big ol' book of memories we carry around.
The van rides there and back were amusing, as always. The big surprise was that we didn't get lost...majorly. We just had a little trouble finding our way around Duke, and that's good. We're working out all those navigational difficulties before UAAs go down in Pittsburgh in a few weeks. Topics on the vans ranged from affirmative action (which was completely random) to the Final Four, to where to eat.
The hotel we inhabited was nice. Potential Emory recruits: join the track team because if anything, you'll get put up in a nice place at least once in your life. Nice rooms, nice place, and nice food, all just nice!
Duke itself is a strange place. Every single building looks alike, and they all look gothic. Not a place you want to walk around at night. You might get stabbed by a knight on a horse. Emily (from the women's team) and I met up with my friend Evan and took a tour of the campus after the two of us had run that Friday.
We both were disappointed with our times. We had to run into a hurricane-speed wind with a virtual snowstorm behind it; it was freezing. The next day, they let everybody run with the wind and the weather was much warmer.
Anyway, we didn't feel like being bothered by some people on the team. Unfortunately, we neglected to let anybody know where we were going, so when we got back at 5:45 p.m. (we thought we had to be back at 7:00), all the sprinters were gone and we had to stay and wait on the distance runners to go out to dinner. It was cool, though. We eventually ended up at Pizza Hut with the rest of the sprinters and things were okay.
Some (G-rated) kertanging went on that night with people jumping on beds like they're kids. Two in particular, Meghan and John, just fought. Meghan won because that girl could beat anybody up, even me (and nobody ever beats me).
The next day, we finished up our competition at Duke with the
relays. We were mediocre, and I'll take all the blame for it. I've
got a psychological issue; I seem to perform better at smaller
meets and not as well at the big
meets. Something to work on, I guess.
Meanwhile, after the 4x100 relay, we went to eat lunch...not anywhere close to Duke. We could have just come back to Georgia to eat! We ended up going back to where our hotel was (which was already about 15-20 minutes away from Duke) to eat at... Subway. I think I'm slowly turning into a Subway sandwich, but that's another story. It was good, though, because we got to have a say in what kind of subs we wanted.
Overall the meet was pretty under par, specifically my performance, but bad meets happen. Hopefully it's out of my system so I can get ready for next week, when we end up back in North Carolina.
April 26, 2004 - Wesley Thomas
Here I am, writing the very last diary entry for the very last time. It's very bittersweet. If y'all don't know, we won UAAs in Pittsburgh. It was the perfect way to end the year, as well as my cameo here at Emory.
It's sad, but I'll deal with it. Of course, there were so many things that happened that I can not put them all here, but I'll try to recap everything from start to finish.
First of all, I just want to thank the coaches for putting us up in the nicest hotel in the history of nice hotels. I'm telling you we could've slept on the carpet because I know it was made out of poodle hair. The beds were so soft and plush that as soon as you sat down you went to sleep. And everything was white, immaculately white. They really trusted us! The beds had about 24 pillows on them and a down comforter that wouldn't let you move. But I digress. The hotel was nice.
As usual, the coaches put my name in a hat to see who I was going to room with. This time I got Josh McCaleb and Matt Smith, who I had never roomed with before. They're cool people, count it.
Friday we got there and people were talking about my alleged "Bahamas" shirt, which was really a regular shirt. We went to Carnegie Mellon to shake out and stayed there for the banquet, which was later on. Unfortunately, we were just waiting for an hour for it to start, and no other teams had arrived quite yet. They wouldn't let us eat, which sucked for the people who really like to put it away (Esther, Heiber, Esther, Heiber).
When everybody got there, they said "Let's eat," so when we got up, they told us to sit back down so they could do it in an orderly fashion. It was messed up; we got up anyway because we were hungry! They played a presentation that showcased the seven teams (except Rochester). I was in two pictures, which made me grin a little.
After the banquet, I had to go to the potty, along with Emily and Esther (from the girls' squad). That marked the beginning of a chain of events that ended with us getting left behind by the bus. When we came out, the buses were driving off without us, so we had to wait until the coaches were done with their meeting, which took all of two hours. But, in the end, it was all good.
The next day, we got in the zone, ready to compete. I have to say it was a very good day for a lot of people; athletes were recording personal records (PRs) left and right, which annoyed me. I wanted Emory to get all those PRs and not other teams, but that's life, and you got to deal with it.
Both the girls and guys did well that day, so afterwards we went to an Italian resaturant, Tambellini's, to eat...chicken parmesan (we all affectionately know it as 'chicken paaam'). We only eat it everywhere we go. Future Emory stars, I hope y'all have a taste for it; you'll learn to love it anyway.
After eating, we were free to do whatever, so some friends and I walked around Pittsburgh to a place called "The Strip." It was supposed to be the hangout in the area, but in reality it was not. I think they called it that because the place was stripped...of all life. The only thing "jumpin'" was this place called "The Zoo," and it was an under-21 dancing club. Somebody say "lame..."
We hung out in a gift shop because it was the only thing open in Pittsburgh. There was a Kwik-e-Mart (like on "The Simpsons") across the street, but it was forever closed. We walked around our team's hotel floor to see what our teammates were doing. That's the kind of fun y'all can look forward to having!
Something particularly funny was that you had to put your hotel room key in a slot in the room for power to run. No, this was not common knowledge, so here we are calling front desk and complaining about how there's no light or AC. Pretty interesting.
Sunday was the beginning of a 40-day, 40-night rainstorm that made the last day of UAAs particularly grimy. It's not fun to run in the rain...unless you're on the winning team. Otherwise you just do it for nothing. We won, so it was okay.
We won the whole thing and my nemesis (not really because we're like brothers) TJ Jennings won just about every event he did, scoring enough points to be a one-man team. After the winning, we showered and of course my friends and I almost got left behind again. At least the bus waited on us this time. At the airport we saw the Washington and Chicago teams. We were all starving. But we got to eat at TGI Friday's, so it was all good!
We made it back and everything was peachy. But being done really meant that we were, you know, DONE. That's it for me because I'm a senior. It's been a hard, long, fun time here at Emory and I wouldn't trade it in for the world.
Like Chris Nehls (a track demigod) said, "There is a special
bond made amongst people who train together. Once you have suffered
through a workout with someone, they will always be your
It's nothing but true. I've made so many lifelong friends doing track that I can't imagine my life without them. I'll really miss everybody I'm leaving behind, but I know that they'll keep the winning tradition going.
There are more than 10 of us seniors who are graduating, and we all want the best for the team. We can't have that unless y'all join a legacy of good times, good people and winning streaks. I look forward to meeting y'all in the future. It's been real, folks. Peace and chicken grease!
May 31, 2004 - Wesley Thomas
If y'all thought that you could get rid of me that easily, think again! I know I said I was gone for good after UAA's, but I lied. It was a variation of a white lie that I like to call "lying through my teeth." The point is, I'm back again, for the last time, that is!
I know what y'all are thinking. You're thinking, "what's a irresistibly handsome fella who's graduated from Emory with a degree in psychology and plans to teach in Japan for a year still doing here writing a diary entry?" I've heard it all before. I'm here, though, to tell y'all about something bigger than me, you, President Wagner, President Bush, and the whole world. I'm talkin' 'bout nationals.
Y'all don't know this yet, but in college, when you do really well (like I know y'all will when you get to Emory), you get to go to a lovely end of the year meet called the NCAA Division III Nationals, where only the best athletes go to compete for the ultimate prize, bragging rights and getting to be called All-American. You get your picture on the walls of the WoodPEC, which is great because who's gonna take it down?
As far as what happened on the trip, there was never a dull day! It was a Wednesday through Saturday thing, so there was plenty of time for crap to happen. First of all, we were on a 50-passenger airplane, which scared the heck out of me because I can't stand planes. They take me out of my comfort zone.
Anyway, Coach Curtin and I were in the very first row. I mean, I could've reached up and steered the plane, we were so close. He went right to sleep and I tried to do the same, but when I woke up, we were STILL in Atlanta! Turns out we were like the millionth in line to take off. Curtin was like, "at least we're in first class." I told him we were ALL in first class!
The meet was in Decatur, Illinois, but we opted to be the odd people out and flew to St. Louis, Missouri, instead. We drove for days until we finally got to where we were gonna stay. It was a nice area, with a Target AND a Wal-Mart! I was in heaven! There were also a whole bunch of restaurants and stuff, all within walking distance. It was great.
What was really great, though, was that because this was my last time gracing these people with my presence, I was gonna go out with a bang. Every meal I ate cost at least $20, which is unheard of on a track trip. We're usually stopping at Wendy's or Subway, which I haven't had to suffer through since I was in college. Anyway, I ate really well, but there was a time when I thought I'd have a gall bladder attack for overeating. I put it away, all of it, and it was great. Nobody knew I had it in me.
Besides the good food, the hotel was pretty nice, even though it was a week's hike from the actual meet. The meet was in Decatur, but we stayed in Springfield. Which one? Not the one where the Simpsons live (they're in Kentucky). I was in a room with none other than that almighty, thrice-time All-American TJ Jennings. He even blessed me with a haircut that I call "The Franchise." It was great. I love TJ, in a strictly masculine sense, of course.
I felt so official at the meet. Everybody and their mama was there. We even had to wear these passes around our necks that said "Participant" so we could enter. It was great. I took a lot of pictures that I'll always look at when I need to reminisce. There were only 10 of us there: Coaches Curtin and Goss (who looked like father and son), our 4x100 brothers, and the 4x400 sisters. It was a surreal experience that I won't spoil for y'all; it's something you will have to go through yourselves.
As I sit here typing this, I'm crying. To close such a great chapter in the book of My Life is a really hard thing to do, especially for an overly emotional person like me. I think back to three years ago when I first started running from Oxford College with Euler Bropleh and Adam Brunfeldt. I think about how much I sucked...and got better over the years, about how much more coveted I became, about how I earned my place on the team.
I look back on all the good times I had with the track team, how they welcomed me. I'll never forget the very first practice I went to. I was completely out of shape and that day happened to be the hardest workout ever, four 500m runs at a moderately fast pace. I threw up after the first one and had vertigo and all that good stuff. This guy, Chunky (Alan Cheng), kept asking me if I was gonna do another and I distinctly remember shouting "NO!"
Then I fast forward to when I made some of my best friends on the team. Theta Gamma Chi till the day I die! I think about how we won UAAs and how I stuck around after I graduated to run for nationals. About staying in Andrew Kitchings' (they call him Duck) apartment with Euler to train. About doing handoffs with Blake Staub, Chris Nehls, and TJ.
About getting to know these other few people a lot better. About running my butt off at nationals and becoming an All-American. That's what running track is about. It's about going from shouting "NO!" to Chunky to standing on the awards stand thing, holding a trophy that says "you stuck it out and this is your reward...you're an All-American." I'm crying now.
I hope that this diary isn't painfully long, but in case it is, I'm not done yet. I just want to thank the coaches for putting up with the best and the worst of me all these years. I'm not always the easiest person to get along with. I can't thank y'all enough.
I wanna thank Emily Watts, Esther Choi, and AJ Saint-Jacques, who proved to be my best friends through all of this madness. TGC for life! I'd like to thank all the athletes on the track team who talked to me, who let me into their lives, who agreed to be a part of my life. I don't think I could forget any of y'all even if I tried.
In particular, I'd like to thank Blake, TJ, and Chris for helping me get to experience the best part of running track. We'll always be a team, and wherever I see y'all, know that there nothing but love for y'all.
Euler, we've been through it all, from Oxford to Duck's apartment. John "JAWOL" Pitts, what can I say, we're a team! Andrew Seidenberg, thanx for being a great friend. Meghan Callier, Christine Shin, Janina Kreider, and Jane Ukandu, I'm proud of y'all for making it as far as y'all did. There's nothing but good times waiting for y'all in the coming years.
Kile Krol, I just wanted to put his name here; it seemed appropriate. I also want to thank all the parents who gave their time and energy to be there and cheer us on. It was great! I can't name everybody, but to those who I didn't specifically mention, I'm thankful to y'all for giving me so much to talk about in these diaries.
Now I'm drowning in my own tears, so I'll end this. It's been a great three years for me (four for other seniors) and I'll cherish these times always. This was probably the best thing that happened to me at Emory.
To my friends at Emory and y'all future recruits, I'm warning y'all that four years can go by quicker than, well, something that goes by really quickly. So take advantage of it. Take a risk and join the track team! Who knows, you might just like it and end up like me!