With 17 returning All-Conference athletes, the 2006 CSU indoor track team looks strong on paper.
But Coach Del Hessel knows a solid roster means nothing without a lot of hard work to go along with it. Hessel stressed this point when talking about last month's meet in Wyoming, in which three Rams, Janay Deloach, Trey Eder and Jill McCormick met early season provisional qualifications for the NCAA Championships.
"It's always good to qualify early, but they'll have to continue to progress throughout the season," Hessel said.
Saturday the Rams will get another chance to improve when they compete in the Modrall Sperling Lobo Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M. This year's meet will include perennially strong programs like Florida State University, the University of Southern California and Texas Tech University.
"This is the toughest early season test I can remember," stated Hessel. "This will give us some idea of where we stand both nationally and in our own conference."
Hessel likes the look of his team and believes they will be competitive tomorrow and all season long.
This meet will be the first chance for the entire team to compete this season, so Hessel is anxious to see how they will do. His anxiety heightened by the fact that he didn't see or coach his athletes for more than a month.
"They get the same winter break that all CSU students get, so we've only been together and practicing as a team again for three or four days now," Hessel said.
The athletes were all given training programs for the holiday break, but as Hessel explained, maintaining a workout routine over winter break was difficult for some athletes.
"We have athletes from all around the country, so they go home for the holidays and sometimes don't have the same kind of facilities to train with," Hessel continued. "Sometimes their high school's track or weight room were just closed for the holidays."
Despite the challenges some athletes faced over break, Hessel was confident that the team would stay in shape.
With a roster that features All-American shot putter Magnus Lohse, many returning All-Conference athletes and a strong start last month in Wyoming, it would be easy for Hessel to be overconfident. However, he realizes his team hasn't accomplished what it's set out to yet.
"It's very early in the season, so we just have to see how it goes," Hessel started. "But with the talent we have on this team, it could be a very good year."