By Ralph Epifanio
A little competition is a good thing. Whether you want to admit it or not, it's there just the same. It raises personal ambition, and makes teams stronger. No doubt, it also gets coaches excited.
Team captain Kyle Burton will never be accused of being "soft" in practice. Ever the leader, he inspires his teammates in practices, and pushes the pace during workouts. However, nowhere is this more evident than in races.
In a pair of recent track meets, he has set, and reset the current team's standard for the 5K. On March 4th he lowered his personal best for the 5K (3.1 miles) to 16:26. 55. This was not only a lifetime best by nearly 14 seconds, but it is the best 5K time by any runner on the team this year (either during, or after the 2011 cross country season).
Not resting on his laurels, he entered and ran the Spikes Classic, at Embry Riddle University on Friday night, March 18th. There he shattered his two week old mark with a 16:14.50, chopping another 12 seconds off his (previous) PR.
Asked what that PR meant to him, and his team, he said: "I wanted to compete and give it all I had that day. I think all of our runners are improving in the second season of Coach Dunn's system, and looking forward to continued improvement for the rest of this track season, and the next cross country season.
"I think Andrew ran well too, as he also set a personal best, despite not feeling the greatest before the race."
What Kyle was referring to was a late change in the starting time of the College 5000 at the Embry Riddle Spikes Classic, it having been moved up by more than an hour. Both Andrew Epifanio, and the Women's team captain, Maria Harper, were caught by surprise. Maria missed her race completely (women ran first), and Andrew was caught somewhat unprepared.
"I want to thank Coach Dunn and Joe Matusczak, our assistant coach, for showing up to support Andrew and I (at Spikes), and creating an off season workout plan to keep the team in shape," Burton said in closing.
Epifanio ran a tough double that weekend. First, he ran the Spikes 5K on Friday night, finishing in a new personal best of 16:36.82. Less than 12 hours later he ran and won the Sandpiper 5K, in Ormond Beach. His time there was 16:56, and the win made it his fourth straight road race victory, and his fifth in six weeks. He also has two overall seconds, going back to January 29th.
The weekend of March 12, 2011, Stephanie Bird and Deryck Greene traveled to Jacksonville to compete in the Gate River Run. The River Run, with approximately 7500 finishers this year, is known as "The Largest 15K (9.3 miles) in the USA." Stephanie's time was 1:14:54; she finished in 303rd place, and was the 24th woman in the 20-29 age category. Deryck ran 1:12:52, finishing in the top 15% of the field, and 54th in the Male 14-19 age group.