March 13, 2009
Bearcats Experience Houston in Days Leading up to National Meet
By Emily Churchman
We arrived in Houston and were welcomed by sunny 80 degree weather! Our arrival to the hotel was even more impressive. There were huge NCAA D-II banners everywhere, not to mention tons of athletes! It was quite overwhelming. The hotel is huge and it was completely filled with national level athletes. After getting checked in, we had about an hour to get showered and ready for Opening Ceremonies at the Houston Aquarium. Just walking up to the Aquarium, we saw many familiar faces from fellow MIAA teams. We may even be the most represented conference here! You could feel the excitement in the air as tons of athletes buzzed around everywhere.
The first thing we did was sign a huge NCAA Winter Festival Banner. Then we got in line for food. After our meal, we took our time touring the Aquarium. I felt like we were VIP because the entire Aquarium was open to us to go wherever we liked! They had a dance floor upstairs with even more food and tons of fish tanks everywhere! We stopped by the sting-ray tank and mustered the nerve to actually "pet" one. They had a baby shark in the same tank as the sting rays! That was freaky--I wasn't going to pet that. We saw a HUGE snake (terrifying) and then made our way to the white tigers. We even got a picture with one. The most exciting part was at the end of the aquarium trip when we road the train through the underwater tunnel and into the shark tank! It was such an amazing opportunity. I have never seen anything like that before! There were so many sharks around us. Good thing for the tunnel separating us.
We woke up early today and headed to Texas Southern University today to teach local community kids about wrestling and track and field. Track athletes were paired with wrestlers who were also in town for their national meet. We were each assigned a group of kids to work with. It was great to work with these kids as they had each earned the privilege to be excused from school for the day to attend the clinic. It was great getting to work with the Texas strength and conditioning coach; the kids loved all of the sprinting and drills. The best part of the clinic was when my group went to the high jump area where our very own Coach Koschel was not only teaching but demonstrating the drills as well! I think she's going to be sore and sunburned tomorrow! Next we went into the gym to learn about wrestling and I learned a few moves from a couple of 141lb All-Americans. All-in-all it was a very rewarding way to spend a morning here in Houston.
After the clinic we headed to the track facility for the first time for afternoon practice. Again, there were tons of NCAA banners everywhere. The facility is a lot more than I expected; everything is in prime condition. Apparently this track surface is one of the fastest in the nation! The ambiance was a lot like I expected; my adrenaline was pumping and you could tell that everyone was there for a reason, ready to compete. Practice went well for everyone; Ben looked great in the ring and Tyler look super quick over the hurdles. So far I think we're all feeling confident and ready to go…
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