With the UConn track and field team well under way in their indoor season, The Daily Campus sat down with Wellington Ventura, Anish Rajamanickam and Joron Harrell to get insight into the changes in their environment here in Storrs.
Ventura is a senior and a veteran of the 400 meter squad here at UConn, holding multiple school records and currently ranked first in the Big East over that distance. Rajamanickam is a junior who is new to the same group as Ventura, having competed for the UConn club track and field team last year. Harrell is a triple jumper and a transfer from Merrimack College also in his first year on the Huskies’ roster.
After legendary head coach Greg Roy retired in March of 2022, Ventura, Rajamanickam and the rest of the 400m group received a new leader.
“Now I’m working with Selwyn Maxwell and the training is different in terms of [the] workouts,” Ventura explained. “There is a lot more lactic based stuff, but I think it’s the exact thing we need to achieve our goals, so we definitely trust it.”
Moving from club to Division I was quite the adjustment for Rajamanickam, who needed more structure and diversity in his overall routine.
“In the past, I kind of just did what I wanted to and did what I felt was tailored for me, and If I needed a day off, I could take it, but now it is a lot more structured,” the runner detailed. “There’s a training plan that’s a lot more thought out and a lot more planned. The difference is I’m doing a lot more than just running now. There’s cross training, lifting, all those different conditioning things and those have definitely helped a lot, and all those things have helped me a lot in terms of being stronger, more explosive and it’s more than just running I have realized.”
Rajamanickam then proceeded to elaborate on the change from being able to choose his own workouts to them being chosen for him.
“It was unique, I guess, but I have had coaches before and it’s the same thing really,” said the athlete. “I guess the difference was, when I run on my own I wouldn’t time the reps, I would just run as hard as I could and that’s how I ran, but now that there’s times and there’s a good rep or a bad rep I have to make sure I hit the times and hit the paces so I can judge the workout how it went based on that.”
As for Harrell, transferring from a different college can always be a challenge. However, the triple jumper believes that all the changes have been positive for him so far.
“It’s been extremely different, I would say good, but there’s a stereotype that jumpers don’t run, but I’ll tell you right now — here we run — comparing it to where I was before, we run,” Harrell said. “Even in the weight room, I never really maxed at Merrimack. I know I lifted heavy, but I never really did a one rep max like I do here.”
One of the biggest advantages of Storrs included a facility upgrade, something that has made all the difference.
“We definitely condition pretty good here, and at Merrimack we didn’t even have a facility so I couldn’t even practice triple jump, explained Harrell. “We would go to the nearest high school inside the nearest gymnasium, so I could kind of get away with practicing long jump on the high jump mat, but every meet for me was practice, which is why I’m still grateful that I can improve for me to get here to UConn and keep jumping further. Now, because we have an indoor track and a pit, I can work on stuff before I get to the meet, and try to perfect my craft. Everything is a lot different, but in a good way. Even though I might be tired, I know it’s all beneficial for me.”