When the USF indoor track and field team stepped into the building at North Carolina during the weekend, it had a lot of competition to worry about.
Sixty-five teams worth of competition in fact.
“It was madness,” said USF coach Gregory Thiel. “That’s just too many athletes.”
Thiel said what happened to sophomore high jumper Alexis McGaffagan was characteristic of the event. McGaffagan is one of the few high jumpers who jump from the left side of the bar. This created a problem in the crowded building.
“She would be getting ready to jump and people would be walking in her track,” Thiel said. “(And) there was no place to properly warm up.”
The competition took place at the same venue in which the team set three USF records a week ago while competing against nine opponents. The team finished fifth in that competition. While this weekend’s meet was not scored, Thiel said the entire team competed well.
“Most of the kids finished in the top eight,” he said. “That’s a really good meet when you talk about heats of 90 to 100 kids.”
Leading the way for the team was freshman runner Bente General, who ran a time of 2 minutes, 11.49 seconds in the 800-meter race. Her time was good enough for first in a field of 73 runners.
“There were 12 girls in her heat on a six-lane track,” Thiel said. “She was real excited. We were real excited.”
General’s time was 1.49 seconds off the provisional qualifying mark for the NCAA meet. When asked if he thinks General will be able to cut down her time and qualify for the national meet, Thiel’s answer was decisive.
“Absolutely,” he said.
Other top performers for the Bulls included Amber Delpino, who finished fourth in the 400 meters with a time of 57.54 against an astounding 97 opponents and 43 heats, and Tara Quinn, who captured fourth in the mile run with a time of 4:58.88.
Thiel said the throwers put on another consistent performance. Dayana Octavien, fresh off her record-setting performance of a week ago which earned her Conference USA Athlete of the Week honors, finished fifth in the weight throw. Chandra Brewer, who also set a USF record last week, brought home a strong fifth-place finish in the shot put.
Thiel said he was impressed with the performance of the team, considering the many distractions it had to endure.
“All the girls, for the situation, they really did a good job,” Thiel said.
Thiel said the consistency of the team was good, which bodes well for meets in the coming weeks.
“Everybody ran kind of where we expected to be at this point in time,” Thiel said. “We came away really excited about next month (when conference competition begins).”
- Rob Brannon covers indoor track and field and can be reached at email@example.com