In the first competition of their college careers, freshmen on CSU's indoor track team were tested against athletes from top-notch programs like Southern California, Florida State and Louisiana State.
Assistant coach Bryan Bedard said that first meet "woke a lot of the young athletes up to the level of competition." Since then, Bedard believes the underclassmen responded well to the challenge that is Division-IA athletics.
"They're coming along very well," Bedard said. "They're watching leaders and learning how to handle themselves."
Along with learning from examples set by upperclassmen like Jill McCormick, Rob Watson, Janay Deloach and Drew Morano, young Rams have also responded well to difficult practice situations.
"We try to create meet situations in practice so that the younger athletes can learn to deal with pressure-you can only learn from experience," Bedard said.
Freshmen Chantelle Dron has benefited from early challenges as well as any of the young Rams. Last week in Colorado Springs, she comprised 25 percent of the winning women's medley relay team, and later went on to win the mile run. The week before that, freshmen Kyle Keeler won the 600-yard sprint.
Bedard also understands how important the mental aspect is to an athlete's overall performance. For this reason Bedard said he doesn't try to "over-coach" his athletes.
"I try to let kids figure things out for themselves," he said. "I don't tell them something they already know unless they really need to hear it."
This weekend half of the Rams' squad travels to Boise, Idaho, where they will compete in the Holiday Inn Team Invitational. The rest of the team will stay in state, heading south to Golden to compete in the Colorado School of Mines Invitational.
CSU's original schedule had half the team heading to Fayetteville, Ark. instead of Idaho, but coaches decided at the last minute to go to Boise instead.
The University of Oregon and Washington State University are among the schools competing against the Rams in Boise. Schools participating in the meet in Golden include CU, Air Force, as well as Division-II program Adams State University.
With a meet including Division-II opponents, the Rams are seeing a bit of a drop in the level of competition. Despite this, Bedard sees this as another chance for the team to improve.
"It's important to grow and get better every week, no matter who the competition is."