Track and field season is more comparable to a distance race than a sprint. The long season burns out those who are not prepared. It makes sense, then, that two of Ball State's most consistent track and field athletes are a pair of distance runners.
Heading into the Canon Classic this weekend, Matt Bliss and Katie Nowak have been rock solid for their teams.
Nowak, a junior, had a lot to live up to this indoor season after winning the mile, the 3,000-meter run, and the 5,000-meter run at last year's Mid-American Conference Championships.
Nowak has already bettered last season's 3,000 time by five seconds, and is only two seconds behind her conference-winning mile time.
"She has proven all season long that she can rise to the occasion," head coach Sue Parks said.
While her team struggled in last week's Indiana Relays, Nowak earned a second place in her event, the 3,000.
"Even though we had a bad meet last weekend, she still performed well," Parks added.
On the men's side, Matt Bliss has been the poster boy for Ball State distance for his entire career. In this, his final season, Bliss is striving for an elusive goal. He is looking to qualify for nationals in his specialty event - the mile.
Bliss's personal best of 4:08.23, which he ran last weekend, is only a little over two seconds behind the NCAA provisional mark.
"He's zeroing in, slowly but surely on that national-qualifying time," head coach Jim Sprecher said. "It would be a great way to end his indoor career."
Bliss has also had success this year in the 800-meter run, but he will not participate in that event this weekend. He will instead run the 3000 for the first time this season. Sprecher says he has not decided what Bliss will run in the MAC meet.
The Canon Invitational begins Friday and is a two-day unscored meet in Indianapolis.