#TGW: All For One
Georgia Tech men's track out to make a splash at ACCs
By Jon Cooper
The Good Word
The Georgia Tech men's track team is expecting to make an impact in the proceedings.
"At ACCs it's always the same goal. We're not working to win the whole thing as a team yet. We just don't have enough bodies, really," said senior distance runner Brandon Lasater. "It's always just put up as many points as possible. It's not about finishing first but it's still a huge factor on finishing as high as possible as a team. We do want to be competing. We don't want to be just an afterthought in the ACCs."
Lasater, who will be running in the 1,500 meters (prelims begin at 7:45 p.m. on Thursday) and 800 (8:00 p.m. on Friday) and possibly the 4x400 relay (the meet's final event at 8:40 p.m. Saturday), doesn't have to worry about that. He'll likely be on the minds -- if not in the heads -- of competitors in his events, especially as his race gets late. That's when the "Lasater Kick" starts to become a factor.
That closing kick first made news in the 2013 Florida Relays in the 4x800 then recently resurfaced again nationally, recently at the Penn Relays, when he ran a 1:47:06 on the anchor leg as Tech's quartet of Zack Fanelty, Jeremy Greenwald, Andres Littig and Lasater finished in 7:18.84, to win the 4x800 by 2/100ths of a second over Georgetown.
"Quite honestly, that is the best experience I've had in track and field," Lasater said. "I've always been focused on Penn Relays. It's kind of been my big goal. So I'm really glad that we got it for Tech and that I was able to do it with the guys I did it with. Because Zack and Jeremy have been training with me all these years. They're both great and I've loved having them as training partners and Andres is a great up-and-comer so he should be doing good things in the next year."
He doesn't see what all the fuss is about.
"I don't know if a lot of teams think about it too much," he said, with a laugh, when asked about his extra gear down the stretch. "I know in the ACC that it generally comes into people's race plans but outside of the ACC I'm not sure yet. I don't really know for sure. But I imagine it has to factor into the ACC because it's happened a couple of times."
In addition to the Penn Relays it also happened in last weekend's Duke Twilight, when he and Greeenwald finished 1-2 in the 1,500.
Lasater won't take credit for lifting the team to victory but does believe that his presence does give the team a lift. Of course, he has complete confidence in the entire team.
"It definitely helps having someone you can count on. Knowing that each leg is going to do his part," he said. "I know the guys have mentioned that it's nice that they can hand it off to me because I generally race pretty well on relays. So it definitely helps with the mindset. It makes everyone a little more positive knowing that they have something they can fall back on."
Lasater is positive when it comes to the prospects for Littig, who he considers one of many "under-the-radar" performers the Jackets will be putting out there this weekend -- especially with injuries and other factors keeping pole vaulter Nikita Kirillov and jumper Jonathan Gardner, both seniors from competing.
"I think Andres is in a good position as far as the 800 goes," he said. "He has been doing really well so I expect him to show up. He made that final indoors so I know he's capable of it. I'm looking for him, once he's in that final to have a little more factor in that race. I think in the 400, [junior] AZ [Reese]. He's been having some rough years so I'm hoping he can put it together in the last few weeks. He's had some good splits on 4x4s. If he can just translate that into the open then he'll be in a pretty good position in the final. We're looking for some other people to step up, like [jumper] Myles [McDavid] and our distance guys, hopefully Jeremy, Andres, a few other 800 guys."
Lasater, of course, expects that Georgia Tech to continue to perform solidly in the distance events, which seem to be tailor-made for Tech this season.
"Coach Drosky is very good at coaching both the 800 and the 1,500 but the 1,500 requires a little more mileage, a little more aerobics than the 800," he said. "The training we do is good for both but it just takes a little time to develop for the 1,500 so we see a lot of people doing well in the 15 now because we have a lot of seniors. So there are a lot of people who have been in the program for a while so they just kind of develop. Coach Drosky's program is very developmental. So over time you just gradually get better. It just takes a little while for the 15 to kind of kick in and right now we have a big group of seniors so there's a lot of people that are ready to go."
Lasater will be ready to go this weekend in his final ACCs, but he's certainly not treating it with any kind of finality -- of course, he doesn't have to, as he's qualified for NCAAs in both 800 and 1,500.
"I don't really worry about it being my last time," he said. "It's crossed my mind. I hope to keep competing after college so it's more just I'd like to have a really good showing just to give back to Coach Drosky. Any time they have ACCs and whatnot, it's more to do it for the coaches and the school. It's not so much a personal thing for me."
He's also not expecting any kind of special emotional send-off or rah-rah rallies for him and the other seniors. That's just not how it works.
"The track team, more now it's just try and do as well individually as far as the different groups, like the distance group wants to do well but it's never `For the seniors,'" he said. "It's always because of the team. So it's never `Do it for the seniors.' It's always `Do it for Tech.'"