KINGSTON, R.I. – Winning can be contagious. Proof can be seen through the VCU track & field programs.
Winning Stage 1: Two summers ago, then freshman Kiara Porter earned a spot in the IAAF World Junior Championships as part of the United State squad. That opportunity led to a gold medal on the 4x400 meter relay squad.
"Kiara's work ethic and track IQ takes this program to the next level. She's had quite a number of firsts in program history and the gold medal is really the one that stands out. Her success on and off the track motivates the younger athletes to achieve at the highest level," Head Coach Jon Riley said.
Winning Stage 2: Porter (400m) and teammate Jalessa Williams (discus) became the first pair of VCU track athletes to earn All-American honors in the same year.
"Jaleesa and Kiara reaching All American status are stories of hard work and development paying off. The entire team saw the work they put in throughout the season, so they all set goals, worked hard over the summer and came to fall training ready to go," Riley said.
Winning Stage 3: The Rams have taken down records and personal bests weekend after weekend during the 2014 indoor season. This weekend, VCU will take to the track looking to take that winning to a whole new level at the Atlantic 10 Indoor Championships.
"I'm not surprised by what this group has accomplished so far this year. Our student-athletes worked extremely hard all summer and fall to get where they are. Our coaches studied film, took continuing education courses, strength coaches used their wealth of knowledge to get them stronger and our trainer kept them healthy. When you have this type of support along with the hard work, it's a recipe for success," Riley said.
With the addition of George Mason, a traditional track & field power in the Mid-Atlantic, to the Atlantic 10, the road to a championship didn't get any easier.
"In order to win, we must have a team effort. We need points from every event group, so each individual must do their job in order for us to be successful," Riley said.
The Atlantic 10 has a rule that limits three athletes per event for each school, which prevents dominating one school from dominating one event area. That lends itself to the Rams, who have shown the ability to score in a multitude of areas this indoor season.
"It's very important that we be a complete team in order to stay in the mix in this conference. Being well rounded and good in multiple events give teams a better chance to win in this league. We have seen consistency from our veterans and steady growth from our newcomers. All we need them to do this weekend is perform at a level equal to their seasonal best," Riley said.