North Texas Daily

Heading into C-USA Championship, track and field aims for bounce back performance

Heading into C-USA Championship, track and field aims for bounce back performance

Heading into C-USA Championship, track and field aims for bounce back performance
May 03
17:19 2018

The North Texas track and field team finished its regular season with an impressive display at the Bobcat Classic in San Marcos over the weekend of April 27 and 28. The meet was the final tuneup for the team before heading to Rice University for the Conference USA Outdoor Championships May 11-13.

The Mean Green had a rocky indoor season earlier in 2018 but has had a huge turnaround during the outdoor portion of the schedule. Several key members of the track and field team have upped their games during the outdoor season, and after dominating last weekend in San Marcos, the Mean Green look ready to turn heads in the conference championships.

Head coach Carl Sheffield is entering his seventh conference tournament as head coach of the Mean Green track and field team and knows what it will take for both the men’s and women’s team to place.

The Mean Green have 30 people inside the top 10 of their events in the conference, hoping to bring home a podium placement.

“We have such a young team overall that I think if we continue to do what we have been doing, not over simplify and continue to improve, we will be ok,” Sheffield said. “I think for them to try and step up to another level from what they have been doing over the last couple of weeks will be mentally and physically draining.”

Freshmen like Haley Walker and Amber Walker have made huge strides to finish the year and are looking to make their marks in their respective events. Haley Walker is heading into the tournament one meet after finishing first in the discus throw with a personal best 49.29 meter throw. It was the second-best discus throw in school history. She also finished second in the shot put throw as well, with a distance of 14.14 meters. Amber Walker finished fifth in the tournament in high jumps with a leap of 1.65 meters.

Despite having a young team, the upperclassmen are headed into the tournament with high expectations and confidence for the team after their showing in San Marcos last weekend.

Senior Dominique Drayden finished third in the long jump with a jump of 7.12 meters and a fourth-place finish in the triple jump with a distance of 14.46 meters.

After having a solid weekend at San Marcos, Drayden said he is confident going into his last conference tournament as a member of the Mean Green.

“I still jumped pretty good last week despite not having my legs all the way under me,” Drayden said. “But I feel pretty confident and pretty good heading into the tournament.”

Drayden is currently ranked No. 9 in the conference in long jump with a distance 7.23 meters. In order to place his spot on the podium, Drayden will need to set a new personal record and jump a distance of at least 7.65 meters during the tournament.

For Drayden, he believes he can finish his career on a high note and place at the last meet of his career.

“We just need to continue to be consistent and compete how we have been practicing and we will do fine,” Drayden said. “I want to set personal records in both the long jump and the triple jump, and to just go in there and perform well will be a great accomplishment.”

Other competitors, like sophomore Breanna Eckels, are competing in multiple events during the tournament next weekend. Eckels will be participating in the long jump, 100-meters and the 4×100 relays.

Eckels is currently ranked No. 2 in the long jump during the outdoor season, with a distance of 6.28 meters. She is currently .05 meters from being first in C-USA.

With how she has performed all season, Eckels and her teammates are feeling pretty good heading into the tournament.

“I did OK at the previous tournament, I feel I have had better marks before,” Eckels said. “I feel pretty great heading into the tournament next week.”

Another event Eckels has the potential to place in is in the 4×100 relays. The Mean Green are currently No. 2 with a time of 45.29 — .14 seconds off first place.

Her and her teammates know they have the potential to place in all of the competitions they run in, it’s just a matter of putting all of the hard work and everything they have learned together into one race.

“We just have to run fast and trust in each other and I am sure the 4×1 will come together,” Eckels said. “As a team I hope everyone comes together as they know how, and as an individual I am getting my body ready for the next couple of weeks.”

With Sheffield at the Helm, the Mean Green have won two conference tournaments and have placed second twice. Last season, the Mean Green finished ninth in the men’s outdoor competition and ninth in the women’s.

The biggest competition for the Mean Green Sheffield said is in sprints and hurdles. It is where he and his coaching staff are focusing on the most heading into the meet.

“Where we have to be more competitive in is in the sprints and hurdles — it is a very strong conference in that regard,” Sheffield said. “I think what will keep us in the game will be keeping up with the teams scoring points in the sprints and hurdles.”

Winning the entire championship is obviously the goal for the Mean Green this outdoor season, and for Sheffield, he agrees the team must improve from their indoor competition.

“We have to do better than we did during the indoor competition,” Sheffield said. “I want us to get better in our league. We would like to be top five on the women’s and men’s side coming out of the tournament.”

Featured image: Courtesy: North Texas Athletics

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Matthew Berger

Matthew Berger

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