James Membreno/ Courier Kessa Rychlick, Freshman, places 2nd in her heat of the Women's 200m dash on Saturday, March 4, 2018 at Jesse Owens Stadium on the Cal State Los Angeles Campus.
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A pair of PCC men’s track & field runners shined bright during an early test of fitness at the Oxy Distance Carnival on Saturday.

Both of the swift 400-meter (400m) runners and their coach believe their first and fifth fastest times of the day are only a hint of what lies ahead for a Lancer team in the initial stages of their training, with many athletes still struggling with injuries.

Brennan Doyle and Kalen Marshall, both second-year students at PCC, posted impressive times on a cold, rainy day of races and field events at Occidental College in Eagle Rock.

Out of about 80 runners competing in the 400m, Doyle and Marshall’s times placed them in first and fifth respectively. Doyle’s dominance of the field and his time of 48.89 seconds (almost a full second ahead of his nearest competitor) are sure to turn heads within the conference.

Although Doyle, who hopes to run for UC Irvine next year, was pleased with the progress he’s been making, he emphasized that the best was yet to come.

“With 100 meters left, I realized I had way more left in the tank than I expected,” said Doyle. “I think I started off way too slow, which is great because when I finished I felt like I could have gone a whole second faster. So, that just gets me more excited for next week’s meet. We haven’t even transitioned from distance training to sprint-style training yet. So that just shows that once we start working on our speed, the times are going to drop a lot more than where they are now.”

Marshall, who placed first in his heat with the fifth-fastest time overall, (49.90 seconds) was sidelined with injuries last season during his first year at PCC. His excellent performance came in his first open 400m since high school.

“There’s always room to improve in training,” noted Marshall. “Every day I’m getting better and better, though. I don’t believe there’s a certain limit that you can hit; I think you can always keep improving through hard work and training. I know I can still do a lot better than this last performance, but the time I put up is going to help me get better lane assignments for future meets.”

The accomplishments were even more impressive given that the Lancers were competing against athletes from a wide variety of four-year colleges at the event, meaning that many of the competitors had been training at a college level for three or four years.

“It gets me prepared for racing next year, [at a four year college]” added Doyle. “Because a lot of the guys I was racing with are two years older than me. It also feels really good when you beat those guys.”

Coach Innocent Egbunike emphasized that the team is right where they need to be, in terms of their training and development, as the start of the conference season approaches.

“We’re already ahead of where we were last year, which is a blessing,” remarked Egbunike. “Hopefully, when it counts, we should go above and beyond last year’s performances. We’ve had a few injuries so our relay teams are not at their best…but when they get healthy…we should be able to run much better in the relays.”

“As it is, with nagging injuries being a common trend in track and field, we just have to hope that with our excellent athletic trainer doing what she does best, we should be good to go when it counts.”

Even while not at their best, the Lancer men’s 4×400 meter relay team (Kalen Marshall, Keyvan Duran, Martin Swan, Brennan Doyle) was able to come in second behind College of the Canyons with a time of 3:21.40. Two weeks prior to the Oxy invite, Martin Swan overextended his hamstring, and without replacements the relay team had to manage with a still-recovering third runner.

Lancer track and field continue their build-up to the conference season at the Bakersfield College Relays and Multis Invitational on March 17th, and the Northridge Invitational at Cal State Northridge on March 24th.

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