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Arreaga Leads Canes into ACC Indoors

By Christy Cabrera Chirinos
HurricaneSports.com
 
CORAL GABLES, Fla. –
Last spring was a season of near misses for Kevin Arreaga.
 
First, the decorated athlete finished fourth in the men’s weight throw at the Atlantic Coast Conference Indoor Championships. During the outdoor season, he was second in the hammer throw at the ACC Championships. He later missed the finals at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships when his throw of 68.32 meters fell just outside the top nine qualifying marks that would have helped him advance.
 
His numbers were all still impressive enough to earn Arreaga second-team All-American honors from the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, but Arreaga wanted more.
 
He knew he could do better and so, a new source of motivation was found.
 
“I was doing good, but it wasn’t enough for me,” Arreaga said. “For me, the toughest part was the [mental approach]. When we started the season, I was like, ‘I have to be focused on that. I know what I have to do. I know what I can do.’ I’ve tried to give 100 percent in every workout and every practice. That’s the only way you can improve and feel more confident with yourself.”
 
As the Hurricanes prepare to head to South Bend for this week’s ACC Indoor Track and Field Championship, Arreaga is now one of the favorites to bring home a gold medal.
 
He opened the year by winning the weight throw at Wolverine Invitational with a personal best of 20.94 meters, a number that, then, was second in the Miami record book.
 
Weeks later, he set a new Hurricanes record and personal best with his throw of 21.82 at the Texas Tech Invitational, a number that then, ranked fourth among all NCAA throwers.
 
Now, the hope is that Arreaga and sprinter Raheem Chambers – whose 6.57 in the 60-meter dash this season is the fastest collegiate time in the nation – can help lead a surging Hurricanes men’s track and field team to a solid finish at the ACC Indoor Championships.
 
“The whole team, everybody’s doing really good. We worked so hard in the preseason,” Arreaga said. “I think people are more motivated this year. They feel more confident and they are competing better. That’s extra motivation to do even better.”
 
Added Amy Deem, Miami’s Director of Track and Field and Cross Country, “I’m excited. We’ve got a young group on the men’s side and they’ll be led by Kevin and Raheem. [Hurdler] McKinly Brown is really stepping up as a leader and just working hard leading by example. … I think if they go in there and compete with confidence, they’re going to do well.”

For Arreaga, the goal is to find a way to perform even better than he did a season ago.
 
He approaches each meet as if it’s a competition against himself and no one else. If he can’t equal or improve on a personal best, he feels as if he’s come up short, even if he’s edged his other competitors in the process.
 
That mentality, Deem said, will only help him excel as he starts thinking beyond his college years and to the professional career he hopes awaits him after graduation.
 
This week, he’ll have another opportunity to show what he can do.
 
“Kevin is just such a competitor. He’s one of those athletes that if he doesn’t [achieve a personal best] every week or throw a personal best, he’s mad,” Deem said. “He kind of reminds me of me because when they run a [personal record] or they throw a [personal best], they’re out there constantly trying to do better than they did the week before. They’re always on to the next one … Kevin’s just extremely competitive and I love that about him.”
 
Said Arreaga, “It’s what works for me. Some people prefer competing against someone else, but for me … I have to beat myself. I have to focus on me. That’s what works for me.”