The Occidental men’s track and field team is fresh off their fourth-place place finish at the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship (SCIAC) meet. The team traveled to Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, CA, to compete April 27 and 28. After a season of training, the Tigers were well prepared to perform their best, according to assistant coach Tyler Yamaguchi.
“I feel very, very good about where everyone’s at. I think mentally we’re in a very good place,” Yamaguchi said.
The team graduated a lot of very talented athletes last spring, leaving room for younger athletes to step into the spotlight, according to Yamaguchi. Tyler Webb (junior) is one of those athletes and one of the team’s top performers. Webb said he went into the SCIAC Championship meet feeling good about where he was at in his training. Webb noted confidence is the key to success in shorter races.
“I feel pretty good. I think we’ve had a good last couple of weeks of practice and that will definitely contribute positively to our performance this weekend,” Webb said.
Webb competed in the 100-meter, 200-meter and 4×100-meter relay April 27 and 28. He placed second in the 100-meter with a time of 10.69, sixth in the 200-meter and fifth in the 4×100-meter.
Training harder than ever, his teammates and coaches believed in his success at SCIACs, Yamaguchi said. Webb qualified for NCAA Division III Nationals this past weekend as well.
“Tyler is the epitome of hard work paying off,” Yamaguchi said. “He’s worked harder than he ever has this season and, unfortunately, the way this sport works is that sometimes that doesn’t pay off for reasons you can’t control. But everything’s come together for him this year and he’s done all the right things to put himself in a situation to succeed.”
According to Webb, it is easy to slip up in the 100-meter since it is such a short and powerful race, but he felt as prepared as possible to perform well because he trained all year for this meet — a change in his routine from years prior.
“Because I’ve been physically running longer, it’s contributed to my mental growth as well,” Webb said. “So I just feel more mentally prepared.“
Although he and his team are confident in his ability to do well at the meet, Webb does feel that there is extra weight on his shoulders.
“I think there’s a little more pressure on me this year, personally, but I think I’m more prepared this year than in years before,” Webb said.
Webb competed in three events but said the 100-meter is his best and favorite. Based on how fast he has been running during practices and other meets, Webb said his team has high expectations for him. According to his teammate and fellow sprinter LaShauna Porter (junior), Webb’s 100-meter race against Redlands University’s fastest sprinter was expected to be an exciting race to watch.
“He’s training faster than anyone I’ve ever worked with, so based on where I’ve seen other people end up, and comparing other people’s training to where he is right now, he’s in the best shape of anyone I’ve ever coached,” Yamaguchi said before the meet. “I can’t say what that will ultimately mean, but I can say that it is possible that he does something extraordinary this weekend.”
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for track and field qualifies the top 20 times for each Division III race for national championships, according to Webb. Going into SCIAC Championships, Webb’s 100-meter rank was right on the cusp of qualifying for nationals, and his second-place finish ensured him a spot.
“[Qualifying for nationals] is definitely an expectation that my teammates and coaches have for me,” Webb said. “I opened up number one and have been dropping ever since then, but I’m back up to 15th or 16th in the nation. I should be in there for the 100 [meter].”
Beyond performance, Webb also stands out as a leader on the team, serving as one of this season’s vice-captains, according to Yamaguchi.
“He sets a good example for the rest of the team showing how much hard work can pay off,” Porter said via email. “He really set such a high standard for everyone else when he crushed his 100m PR at the beginning of the season.”
Porter echoed Yamaguchi’s comments, expressing how much of a role model Webb is for the entire team.
“Since our freshman year, I’ve seen so much growth in Tyler as an athlete,” Porter said via email. “I think that now more so than ever he just holds himself a lot differently and you can see that with just how he walks onto the track. He seems a lot stronger and more confident in his races and it’s been showing this entire season.”
Webb is nearing the end of his junior year and will come back next fall with one season left. Yamaguchi said as much as Webb has already grown over the past three years, his coaches and teammates are looking forward to seeing all he can do during his senior year.
“He has become such an outstanding person, and at the Division III level especially, we look at the individual and the goal is to help him progress and mature athletically, but also from a personal perspective,” Yamaguchi said. “I think Tyler’s made some huge leaps in terms of maturity level both on and off the track. I’m very excited for him beyond track and field. I’m excited for him as a person.”