"Ninety percent of the game is mental. The other half is physical.”
The late, great Yogi Berra was talking about the game of baseball when he unleashed this gem of a “Yogi-ism,” but the rhetoric applies to almost every sport. While the physical abilities of the athletes are usually what garners all the headlines and the attention, the mental side of competition cannot be ignored. However, even athletes and coaches can be divided when asked about which part is the more-demanding aspect of the sport, especially in track and field, which has a very large individual component to the team goal.
Head Coach Ryan Collier is one who thinks that the mental aspect is the tougher half of the sport.
“I think that the majority of kids who come out for track have the physical tools already to do it,” he said. “I believe it’s a matter of getting the brain to connect to those physical tools to be able to do the events they want to do.”
Josie Bryan, a senior who runs distance in track and also did cross-country the past three years for Glenrock, is split on which is the harder task to handle when running.
“It kind of is both, because when you’re running you focus on your pain, instead of focusing on your running,” she said. “But if you’re able to focus on your running, you’re able to block out your pain.”
Meanwhile, sophomore Skyler Piasecki, who played basketball and also ran cross-country for the Herders, believes that the mental battle is clearly the bigger challenge compared to the physical obstacles during competition.
“I’d say it’s tougher mentally, because I always psyche myself out before a race,” he said. “I’m pretty sure that affects me more than anything when I’m competing.”
Ian Arnold is another sophomore on the track team. Having also wrestled and played football for Glenrock, he believes that the mental aspect is the 800-lb gorilla in sports.
“It’s probably more mentally demanding for me, because my body will quit way before my mind does,” he said.
While the mental vs. physical argument may never be resolved, the Herders showed no quit mentally or physically at the Natrona Invite last Friday. Thanks in large part to 45 personal records that were set, the teams had finished strong in the overall standings. The girls team came home in tenth place and the boys secured a sixth-place finish.
Tucker Bopp also became the third Glenrock athlete to pre-qualify for State this year, joining Logan Downs and Garrett Schwindt. Bopp blazed his way to a 52.88 second time in the 200 meter race.
Coach Collier had good things to say about his team’s work in Casper.
“It went really well. We worked really hard all week,” he said. “Our kids showed up with excellent efforts, and it paid off in the meet.” Bryan, Piasecki and Arnold set five of the personal records between the three of them, but all were looking forward to breaking their newly-established bests.
“I just ran a 3:17 for the 800 meter race,” Bryan said. “But I really want to get my time under 3 minutes.”
“I really just want to break my personal records, each time I go out there,” said Piasecki.
“I’m more comfortable, and I’m getting taller and faster.”
“I always pick a certain mark each week, I’m always just trying to improve,” Arnold said. “It’s what Kump (head football coach and assistant track coach) always taught us, and it’s really good advice.”
With the season already a few weeks old, Coach Collier also said that the athletes were basically set in their events, although there could be some more tinkering and adjusting during the next few meets, depending on the event.
The next chance for the Herders to set new personal records and attempt to pre-qualify for State will be this Saturday at the Wheatland Invite in Wheatland. The meet will be held at Wheatland High School and the events will begin at 10:00 a.m.