By Brandon Spratt – [email protected]

SJU track and field had a successful season in 2016, but senior Paul Kohner thinks this season could be better.

“I think there’s a little bit of chatter going on about an outdoor conference championship,” said Kohner, who runs 400 and 800 meter races for SJU.

The Johnnies opened their indoor season this past weekend with a win at the Macalester College Triangular.

The indoor portion of their season culminates in late February with the MIAC Indoor Championships.

The team will then spend March and April preparing for May’s MIAC Outdoor Championships and eventually perhaps the NCAA Division III Outdoor Championships May 25-27.

In a grueling track and field season, athletes experience many peaks and valleys in their form. Head Coach Jeremy Karger-Gatzow knows that keeping his athletes healthy can make a huge difference in hitting the peaks at the right times.

Kohner knows all too well what it is like to be injured during the track season; he has yet to complete a full season at SJU without an injury.

Both Karger-Gatzow and Kohner said they want the team to peak late in the outdoor season.

“Throughout the season, we are trying to get the guys involved so they can continue to progress their training,” Karger-Gatzow said.

Slow and steady wins the race seems to be a theme around the team.

First-year sprinter Jesse Audelo doesn’t like to take things slowly.

Audelo, a Los Angeles, California native, set a 22.73 second time in the 200-meter sprint, a time his coach said was outstanding. He has no plans to stop there—Audelo stated that his goal is to be a Freshman All-American sprinter.

It’s these first-year athletes that give SJU a sense of excitement about their ability to improve on last year’s team.

“We want to set some records and put St. John’s on the map where everybody knows us,” Audelo said.

Knowing his role as a leader for younger teammates, Kohner says he “just wants to be somebody that gets people excited to come to practice every day,” knowing that his role on the team is that of a senior leader for his younger teammates to observe.

If Kohner manages to maintain his energy, he will be keeping SJU practices exciting all season long.

If the Johnnies compete for a MIAC Championship, it will be due to a well-rounded team. Karger-Gatzow prides his teams on being able to compete in all disciplines.

“We can score in just about every event and I think that makes a meet fun, especially as a coach,” Karger-Gatzow said.

One event the Johnnies can expect to score well in is steeplechase. SJU senior Ryan Bugler is the defending NCAA DIII Champion in the event.

Ambitions are high for SJU track and field in 2017. Now it’s up to the team to deliver.