#TGW: Home Track Advantage

March 29, 2015

By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word

There is mounting evidence that a new training plan is working for Georgia Tech’s men’s and women’s track & field as they keep rocking 800-meter runs.

Sophomore Andres Littig won the men’s event, and senior Morgan Jackson took the title Saturday in the Yellow Jacket Invite. Littig (1:50.35) and Jackson (2:10.50) each set personal records, and had colleagues near the front of their races.

They were followed by teammates Zane Coburn (1:52.31, second place), Chris Burnett (1:52.36, third), Cole Jackob (1:54.57, fifth) and Jag Gangemi (2:01.35, 16th) among 27 men, and Christina Pensock (2:12.76, third) and Malin Trollsas (2:19.86, 12th) among 33 women.

Several of these athletes ran faster, sometimes considerably, in preliminaries.

One week earlier, Tech’s men finished second, third, fifth and eighth in the 800 at the Alabama Relays.

“Our whole 800 group is a testament to how well coach [Alan] Drosky prepares us,” said Littig, who finished second at Alabama. “We have 10, 11 guys who have run 1:53 or faster. If there were an 8×800 relay, we would be among the best in the country.

“An official came up to us after we had the top three guys and said, `Wow, you guys really bring a squad to every meet.’ “

Drosky is head coach of the women’s team, and works with middle-distance runners on both Tech squads.

Jackson has typically favored running the indoor mile and the 1,500 outdoors, but after positive results in the indoor 800, she’s focusing more on that outdoors.

“We’ve had some really good workouts in the past month geared toward 800 running; really fast workouts with a lot of rest,” she said. “Coach Drosky came up with the workouts. It makes races not seem so hard and fast.”

The Yellow Jacket Invite was especially rewarding for the women’s squad.

Samantha Becker won the pole vault (13 feet, 3.5 inches), Courtney Naser won the 3000 meter steeplechase (11:40.17) and Tech’s 4×400 relay team of Jazmyne Taylor, Domonique Hall, Ama Larbi and Pensock also took a title (3:44.47).

Tech had several second-place finishers beyond Coburn, including Nathan Daniel in the pole vault (16-9.5, first among collegiate athletes), the men’s 4×400 team of Alexander Reese, Littig, Julian Darden and Brandon Lasater (3:19.36), Spencer Allen in the 110-meter hurdles (14.33), Myles McDavid in the long jump (24-3, first among collegians) and Ryan Thomas in the triple jump (49-9 3.5).

Littig missed his freshman season last spring with patellar tendinitis in his right knee after running for North Gwinnett High. He’s back with modified approaches that go beyond a training plan.

“I’ve picked up habits that are conducive to success like recovery and rest,” Littig explained. “And we got a speech from coach Drosky during indoors about taking a sense of ownership and believing that you deserve to win.

“We really started to go after it with teammates chasing each other. Multiple times a week we have core sessions and we do plyometrics. We’ve gotten talks about what kind of fuel you’re putting into your body. I’ve been making a concentrated effort to eat better . . . I honestly think I wasn’t eating enough.”

Littig and Jackson share traits for the Jackets.

They both will have internships this summer. Littig, a computer science major, will work with Home Depot in software development; Jackson, a biomedical engineering major, will be a business technology analyst with Deloitte.

Littig is not the only student-athlete among the two to have made changes.

As a middle schooler, Jackson was a sprinter/hurdler and upon entering high school her primary sport was basketball at North Cobb High.

“I was a sprinter because I wanted to be just like my mom. She was a sprinter in high school,” she said. “Then, in high school I started cross country because I wanted to improve my endurance for basketball.

“I realized second year that I liked running better. I had played more basketball, but realized I liked running better.”

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