Kyle Winter aims to repeat as BIG EAST Champion
Feb. 13, 2013
Story by Cameron Tieuli (COMM, '13)
Kyle Winter has never been one to settle, and that has been apparent from the time he first stepped foot on a track for Marquette. From day one, Winter has been the top runner in his longer sprints group, and his success reached a peak last indoor track season with a first-place finish in the BIG EAST Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships in the 800-meter run.
Now as his college indoor career is winding down, he's reaching for another title -- and then some. But until he reaches the end of the road and faces those ultimate goals, the mentality remains the same: all business, one race at a time.
In his four years at Marquette, Winter has seen many things around him change. He has seen some of his closest competitors come and go, his teammates move on from the program or graduate, and he has witnessed the track and field program grow both in size and in terms of team performance.
"Since I've been here and got to be around some fast people, for instance (former Marquette sprinter and school record holder) Tyler O'Brien, things have really been turning around for the program," Winter said. "We're bringing more and more people to the BIG EAST meet, we're scoring more and more points, and it's really cool to see the direction the program is headed in."
Undoubtedly, the senior captain has been instrumental in improving the program, being a leader by example right from the get-go. But even he will admit that there was some major adjusting that had to be done in order to go from being a high-level high school runner, to a competitive runner at the NCAA Division I level.
"My biggest challenge was acclimating to the college running atmosphere. What used to be good in high school was a thing of the past," Winter explained. "Everyone in college is hungry to win. Trusting yourself is probably the biggest thing a mature runner can do that younger runners don't understand. A mature runner can set the goals to get there. It takes time."
The humble yet confident Winter is not one to sing his own praises, but it is accomplishments like his BIG EAST Championship-winning 800-meter run last year that is putting Marquette track and field in the thick of the BIG EAST meet, and he is looking for the same this year.
"Last year I don't want to say I got lucky, but we were all very similar runners, sitting right around 1:50 and we knew it was going to be a tactical race. Everyone had an equal chance of winning. A championship race was the best thing I could have hoped for and confidence is everything in the 800," Winter said.
Repeating as BIG EAST champion is a goal for Winter in the this weekend's championship meet in Geneva, Ohio, but there is definitely more the Wales, Wis., native would like to achieve before his indoor college career is over.
"My personal goal this year was to break 1:50 indoors and try to get as close to the school record as possible. I do want to give myself a chance to run at the NCAA National Championships, and that is the ultimate goal."
That being said, Winter is driven on scoring as many points for his team in the BIG EAST Championships, where he will also run the anchor leg for Marquette in men's 4x400-meter relay.
"I really couldn't put into words how awesome it would make me feel to repeat as champion. This is my last BIG EAST Championships, and it would be great to win it for Marquette. It would be the perfect way for me to go out as a senior," said Winter.
When the gun goes off for the preliminaries in the 800 on Saturday morning, Winter will be ready, but he insists without added pressure.
"I think it's been the opposite of adding pressure," Winter said. "Being where I'm at right now I think is expected. In high school I never knew what championship racing was - now I do. And that is everything. The meets that we go to have been really good grooming, almost like championship racing practice. I really feel I am ready for the challenge."