Even inclement weather could only slow down the Aftershock Distance Club so much when they opened up their outdoor track season in rain and wind at Central Arizona College, bringing home four gold's but more importantly growing under less-than-desirable conditions.
While Arizona was getting bombarded with either rain or snow (mostly rain), Aftershock made the trip down to Coolidge for the race as one of only three official teams to participate. The other two teams were Central Arizona's (CAC) team and Glendale Community College's team, along with a few unattached athletes.
With the weather making things difficult, this forced the athletes to find ways to keep out of the rain and not get too cold. For the girls of Aftershock, they spent a majority of their down time in the locker room while Chris D'Angelo, "who doesn't like to be too far away form the action," waited for his races in head coach Micah Swenson's car.
"The weather was so bad that a lot of the competition didn't even attend," Swenson said. "Outside of the Central AZ athletes and ours, there were only a couple of other competitors. To say conditions were tough would be an understatement. It was raining off and on and at times the rain was coming down hard."
When it came to the actual racing, the rain gathered along the No. 1 lane on the inside of the track and the wind forced Aftershock to run through it on the front straightaway, negating any advantage a runner may have gotten on the back straightaway. The conditions reminded Swenson of a training montage from everyone's favorite 80's boxing hero, Rocky Balboa, and when he traveled to Russia and was training in the snow.
"It was like Rocky 4 when he's training in Russia except we enjoyed strong rain and wind rather than snow," Swenson said.
The conditions were far from ideal and that did not bother Swenson because it gave Aftershock some adversity, Swenson said it was a great physical and mental test for the team because they knew they would not run the best times in Coolidge.
Sophomore Penny Fenn was supposed to making her season debut in the steeplechase, but the race was canceled. Instead Fenn moved to the 1,500-meter race, joining Allyson Arellano, Karen Arellano, Sydney Alexander and Swayze Smith in the race. This was also the first time in track season (indoor and outdoor) that the younger Arellano sister participated in the 1,500.
"Penny, who I thought ran solid on Saturday, was 19 seconds slower than last week in Glendale," Swenson said. "[I was] using that as my barometer on the effect of the weather conditions,"
Just like most of her other races, Allyson won her 1,500 with some space between herself and second place. Allyson crossed the finish line in 5:12.04, eight seconds ahead of second place and Fenn was shortly after her with a time of 5:23.02. Alexander came in fifth in the 1,500-meter, but was about a quarter-of-a-second off her PR when she finished her near-mile in 5:39.66. D'Angelo was on of two runners in the men's 1,500-meter race, finishing the race in 4:42.96.
Had the weather of been more agreeable, Swenson said that Allyson would have hit the elusive sub-5 minute 1,500-meter race and Alexander would have PRed with a sub-5:30 1,500.
Jalen Ebert continued her breakout year in the mid-distance races with the 400-meter race. The freshman finished 10 seconds behind first place with a time of 1:08.77. Ebert, Fenn and the elder Arellano ran in the 800-meter race with Fenn taking top-honors with a time of 2:31.22. Fenn's finish was close to a best, but a closer look shows how impactful the weather was as the sophomore was on pace for a sub-2:30 800.
"I was really impressed with Penny's 800-meter," Swenson said. "Her time of 2:31.32 was close to a season best. With just 200-meters to go, the clock was at 1:50. This meant she was pace to run a 2:27. As they came into the turn, the wind kicked back up."
The day ended how it usually does, with the longest race last (this time the 5,000-meter race). D'Angelo's was the lone runner in his race and was running in the 5,000 for the first time this season. D'Angelo ran his 3.1 miles in 17:35.42, with a pace of about 5:35, which is nearly identical to his 3,000-meter run ace.
Her race may not have been easy because of the weather, but Allyson handled the adversity the best of her field (which included two CAC runners, Alexander and Smith). The freshman specialist was out to a quick start and after a lap-and-a-half, was running alone for the rest of the race, finishing in 19:07.43. The win was Allyson's 11th of the season and second for the day.
"The times were slow but the meet was a success," Swenson said. "We need a little adversity from time to time to test our mental toughness and Mother Nature was more than willing to provide it."