Track and field program flourishes under second-year head coach

As the Gators successful track and field season nears its end, head coach Kendra Reimer and her staff are prepping the team for the California Collegiate Athletic Association championships May 5-7. Reimer’s second year at SF State is coming to an end and she is proud of the quick turnaround of the track and field team.

Under Reimer and the coaching staff, many of the athletes have set personal records, reached great times and set provisional marks. At SF State’s Distance Carnival, sophomore Adriana Calva crushed her own 3000m steeplechase record by 13 seconds with a time of 10:57.35 and reached the NCAA Division II provisional mark of 11:05. Junior Kayla Phillips set a conference-best triple jump provisional mark. Senior Nicole Uikilifi has reached multiple provisional marks in the discus and hammer throw.

Reimer said the team’s investment in becoming high-level collegiate athletes has to do with the athletes being fully committed to working hard. Performing at a high level means doing all the little things in practice in order to be prepared to execute at the meets. Members of the team need listen to coaches and apply what they teach on and off the track.

“The big difference between last year and this year is the level of commitment and getting the girls to buy into being fully committed to the program,” Reimer said. “I feel that’s been the big first step and the turning point of the program.”

SF State Track & Field Head Coach Kendra Reimer during practice at Cox Stadium, Thursday April 21, 2016. (Aleah Fajardo/ Xpress)

SF State Track & Field Head Coach Kendra Reimer during practice at Cox Stadium, Thursday April 21, 2016. (Aleah Fajardo/ Xpress)

Reimer pushed the girls harder this year, taking the intensity up a couple notches. The team has responded by adjusting to the heavy workload and perfecting the lifestyle of a high-level collegiate athlete. Reimer said that’s been the biggest stepping stone in the program.

Tapping into the athlete’s potential begins with Reimer and the coaching staff teaching them to buy into what they’re doing and helping them see who they can be and the vision of how far they can go.

“When you can see it, see what your potential is, then it’s easier to work for it and you’re more excited when there’s light at the end of the tunnel for all your hard work, and that’s scary part for most athletes is committing,” Reimer said. “Athletes might say ‘oh, maybe I won’t get anything out of it if I commit.’”

Janelle Bandayrel, a junior transfer from City College of San Francisco, has been with the team for a short time but has already reaped the benefits of running under Reimer and the assistant coaches. In the Beach Invitational, hosted by Long Beach State, she set a personal-best time of 25.40 in the 200m dash. At the Sacramento State Hornet Invitational, she was almost .2 of a second away from reaching the 100m provisional mark of 24.53.

“I got times that I wanted for a long time, and I finally hit them with the supervision of the coaches,” Bandayrel said. “They’ve noticed how much hard work I’ve put in to reach those marks.”

Another runner who has been in the program less than a year is Camille Hansen, a junior transfer from Cal State East Bay. She said she began training late, but working with assistant coaches Alhbeck and Chew has prepared her for April and May’s events. She was under five seconds shy of reaching the 1500m provisional mark of 4:34 at the Bryan Clay invitational. Her time of 4:38.55 is the fourth fastest time in school history.

The training has intensified with conference championships looming.

“We’re working really hard,” Hansen said. “This has been brutal. It’s good because we’re getting better, so we need that high-intensity training. It’s hard though.”

Reimer assessed the season as a success given the rapid progress the program has gone through. Reimer’s proud of the team and is excited about the talent and youth. Reimer said they have a program full of “talented athletes and a fully functional program that’s now a big threat within the conference.”

“This year was our coming out year and everyone in the conference is noticing what we’re doing here at San Francisco State, so it’s exciting,” Reimer said.

“Our team has so much potential, it’s crazy,” Hansen said. “We’re going to be really good. We can do big things in conference.”

Reimer demands more from her athletes, teaching them that if they’re good enough that’s okay, but not to settle because they can accomplish a lot more.

“Anything we do in life and when you go into your future jobs, careers, hard work and dedication is what it’s going to take to really stand out,” Reimer said. “It’s not a track thing, it’s life.”

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