By: Mason Nesbitt, Sports Information Director
Wes Methum learns something new every time he races.
“Every single race you add something new to your tool belt,” the TMU freshman runner said Thursday, two days before he and two other Mustangs put their seasons on the line at the Oxy Invite in Los Angeles.
Methum learned two weeks ago, at the Bryan Clay Invitational, about the perils of starting two fast in the 5,000 meters. He felt strong for the first two miles so he didn’t realize his pace was unsustainable.
Then the final mile hit like a brick wall.
“It really started hurting and I died,” he said.
So, even though it may feel sluggish, Methum plans to hold back early in Saturday’s race before taking off in the final mile. He doesn’t have much time to make up.
Methum missed hitting the NAIA B Standard qualifying mark by .65 seconds at Bryan Clay. Since then, he’s focused on coach Zach Schroeder’s four pillars of success: 1) faithful training 2) rest and recovery 3) nutrition 4) functional mobility. TMU’s Mikala Fairchild is aiming to qualify for nationals in the 1,500 meters on Saturday at the Oxy Invite.
“Athletically, I feel like Wes is about to pop a really big race,” Schroeder said.
Mustangs Mikala Fairchild (1,500) and Josh Nunez (3,000 steeplechase) also find themselves in do-or-die scenarios Saturday at Jack Kemp Stadium.
Fairchild, a senior, ran the 1,500 at last month’s Golden State Athletic Conference Championship in 4 minutes, 57.84 seconds. The B Standard is 4:41.50.
Nunez’s best mark in the steeple this season was 9:47.97 in late March at the San Francisco State Distance Carnival. He’ll need at least a 9:32 to get to nationals.
Senior Alec Franco, who has already hit a qualifying time for the marathon, will try to add the steeple as an option at nationals. He was an All-American in the event last season but shifted his focus to the marathon this spring.
Franco said earlier this year he felt his marathon training would have him prepped for the shorter race. He’ll need to improve on his best 2018 time by about 18 seconds to advance.
“For those four athletes, there is a lot on the line,” Schroeder said.
Other Mustangs, those with B or A Standard times in the bag, will also compete Saturday.
Schroeder sees it as an opportunity to fend of rust for Seanna Nalbandyan (400 hurdles), Stephen Pacheco (5K) and Abigail Frankian (5K). It also allows them to mentally rehearse how they’d like to run in
Gulf Shores, Alabama, at the end of the month.
“You’re only going to rise to the level of your opponents,” Schroeder said. “… In great fields, you produce some of your best times. This really is a highlight meet where I believe every single person we’re bringing to Oxy could walk away with a new lifetime best.
“That really propels us to a point where we can compete well at nationals. It gives us a tremendous amount of confidence if things go well.”