Two disappointing track seasons opened Mike Wells’ mind to a new place and a new training method.
He transferred to Wichita State from Oklahoma and needed to regain his confidence. Fast people run faster when they are relaxed and confident.
So while he’s not a morning person, he attended a 6 a.m. yoga class at Heskett Center, encouraged by Dominique Waters, his aunt and the woman who played a large role in raising him.
“It’s quiet, and you’re not thinking about a lot of things,” Wells said. “I always thought about track … and how I can get myself back together.”
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Wells, a sophomore from St. Louis, is taking his first steps toward regaining his stride. He made his Shocker debut by running the 60-meter dash in 6.85 seconds last week in the Bill Easton Classic in Lawrence, the third-best time in WSU history. On Thursday, he will run the 60 and the 200 in a triangular with Kansas and Kansas State at Heskett Center.
Yoga helped his flexibility. More important, after about a month of posing, breathing and relaxing, it helped his mind.
“I’m so used to running fast, that when I’m not running fast I just lost it all,” he said. “I’ll be nervous. I need to be confident going into a race, more than jittery.”
Wells and WSU assistant director of track and field John Wise, who coaches sprinters, agree that Wells is around 80 percent of full strength.
“Now we can start talking about expectations, and he can handle that,” Wise said.
Wells ran at OU during the 2014-15 season, finishing fifth in the Big 12 Indoor Championships with a time of 6.77 in the 60, and suffered a groin injury late in the spring. He spent most of 2015-16 rehabbing and decided he needed a fresh start.
Wise remembered Wells from a high school meet at Heskett Center. When they talked last spring, Wells heard exactly what he wanted from a coach.
“He’s a straight-up dude, and he didn’t beat around the bush and I liked that,” Wells said. “He told me I could get back to my old self. He made me believe again, after I lost my confidence at OU.”
Wells came to WSU in August out of shape, around 189 pounds. It took a month or more of running sprints — the Saturday morning routine of 13 200s stands out as the worst — and running hills for his fitness to start to return. He cut Twix and Skittles and started to eat salads, heavy on eggs and broccoli. He now weighs 174 and wants to lose around six more pounds.
Wells is the kind of athlete that WSU rarely gets coming out of high school, Wise said. In a second-chance situation, the potential is exciting.
“He’s a guy that can compete at the NCAA Championship-level, if he get his form back,” Wise said. “He’s got to stay focused and continue to work hard, both here and in the classroom.”
Tennis gets started— WSU’s tennis teams open the spring season this weekend.
WSU’s Gabriela Porubin and Giulia Guidetti will compete in the National Collegiate Team Tennis Classic in Rancho Mirage, Calif. on Friday.
The men play Thursday at Tulsa and meet Creighton at 2 p.m. Saturday at Crestview Country Club.
When: Thursday, with field events at noon; running events at 5 p.m.
Where: Heskett Center
TV: Cox 13