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Four track and field athletes ready for opportunity to compete at NCAA tournament

Four track and field athletes ready for opportunity to compete at NCAA tournament

Senior sprinter and jumper Monda Landry was one of the athletes that qualified for the NCAA tournament in track and field last season. Courtesy | North Texas Athletics

Four track and field athletes ready for opportunity to compete at NCAA tournament
May 02
19:30 2016

Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer

@ReeceWaddell15

Head track & field coach Carl Sheffield made a bold prediction coming into the 2016 season, saying the Mean Green would double the number of athletes at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Last year North Texas sent eight athletes to the tournament, so in order for Sheffield’s prediction to come true, 16 athletes will need to qualify this time around.

“We may come up a little short there,” Sheffield said. “But I think the group that has potential to get there will be just as good. The chance for them to advance will be greater than it was with us taking [eight] people last year.”

The outdoor championships will be held in Eugene, Oregon from June 8-11 and boasts the top track and field performers from across the nation. And despite North Texas being in a mid-major conference, Sheffield does not view that as a hindrance.

Rather, he sees it as an advantage.

Senior sprinter and jumper Mona Landry extends after jumping off of the runway in the long jump at the TCU Invitational in Fort Worth. Courtesy | North Texas Athletics

Senior sprinter and jumper Mona Landry extends after jumping off of the runway in the long jump at the TCU Invitational in Fort Worth. Courtesy | North Texas Athletics

“I think if you’re a finalist in Conference USA or on the podium at Conference USA, you’re one of the tops in the nation,” Sheffield said. “Our conference is just that competitive. We feel very strongly that if you can be top three, four or five at Conference USA, you can get into the national finals.”

One of the athletes consistently on the podium for the Mean Green has been senior high jumper Eddie Wilcox. The 6’6 human pogo stick took home the gold at the C-USA indoor championships in February, shattering his personal best mark when he cleared 2.17 meters.

But to be competitive on the national stage, Wilcox said he may have to leap even higher.

“I’m probably going to have to jump my [personal record] to get there,” Wilcox said. “After doing it this weekend and how I felt going over it, I feel really comfortable.”

Wilcox is ranked 11th on the NCAA Division I West Outdoor Qualifying List for high jump and trails the leader by only .09 meters. Because the NCAA takes the top 12 athletes from the qualifying list, Wilcox feels confident about his ability to soar to new heights in Eugene and end his collegiate career on a high note.

“I for sure wouldn’t have a ‘what if?’ in the back of my head for the rest of my life,” Wilcox said of making the NCAA tournament. “It would be great to have peace of mind, being able to say, ‘Hey, I was able to go to nationals.’”

But Wilcox is not the only North Texas athlete primed for a spot in the NCAA tournament.

With only a few weeks left in a Mean Green uniform, graduate hurdler Chastity Stewart is hoping to go out with a bang. Fresh off setting the meet record in the 100-meter hurdles at the John Jacobs Invitational, Stewart has become a key cog for the women’s side down the stretch.

Currently 12th on her qualifying list with a time of 13.24 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles, Stewart is the highest nationally ranked woman on the North Texas squad.

Graduate student sprinter Chastity Stewart qualified for the NCAA tournament in track and field. Courtesy | North Texas Athletics

Graduate student sprinter Chastity Stewart qualified for the NCAA tournament in track and field. Courtesy | North Texas Athletics

“All the work we’ve put in over the past five years is going to pay off,” Stewart said. “I’ve wanted to impact this program for more than just my ability on the track. I think I’ve done that, but there are still a lot more loose ends I want to tie up.”

Another senior competing on the national level for the Mean Green is sprinter and jumper Mona Landry. Having competed four straight years at the NCAA tournament for North Texas, Landry is no stranger to the adrenaline-pumping challenge that likely awaits her.

“The intensity is very high,” Landry said. “Everyone of course comes to go hard or go home. I think it’s just mental. You have to get yourself together and worry about you.”

Senior distance runner Bryce McAndrew will also be gracing the national stage for North Texas. He has already broken the North Texas outdoor track and field record in the 5,000 meter run on April 15 with a time of 14:06:07, besting a record held for 33 years by Ron Wakefield.

McAndrew is currently ranked 20th on the 1,500 meter run qualifying list, but he said he will need to improve on his personal bests in order to ascent to the top of an event where results come down to tenths of seconds.

“I’m going to have to have a good day to go,” McAndrew said. “Every year just keeps getting faster and faster. I’ve been racing for a while, so if the race goes how it should, I should have a good chance. Everyone is really good. You can’t have a bad day.”

As the season comes to a close, Sheffield is proud of the work his entire team has put in. With that in mind, Sheffield also knows he has a class full of seniors determined to make one final trek to Oregon and leave their stamp on the program.

“It’s almost saddening to realize how many seniors have brought this team to this point,” Sheffield said. “I’m praying they’ve left their mark on the underclassman. They all have stories about where they came from and how they got here. You always talk about them when they come back, so I hope they leave that impression behind.”

Featured Image: Senior sprinter and jumper Monda Landry was one of the athletes that qualified for the NCAA tournament in track and field. Courtesy | North Texas Athletics

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