Out of the blocks and off to the races for Bulls

The University of South Florida indoor track and field team opens its 2003 season at the Florida Intercollegiate Saturday in Gainesville.

The Bulls return the core of last season’s C-USA runner-up squad, prompting USF coach Greg Thiel to have a positive outlook for this season.

“We’ll be in a better position this year,” Thiel said. “Our kids are all a year older and more mature. I think they saw what it takes to be a champion last year, and if it’s our day, I think we can make a real great run (at a conference title).”

One of the returning runners is sophomore Bente General, last season’s Conference USA Freshman of the Year and individual champion in the 800-meter dash.

“(Bente) is a tough individual and an intricate part of our team,” Thiel said. “But, the list really goes on and on.

“We’ve added a couple of great recruits, some strong standout sprinters, so we’ve added a few points to our total.”

The Bulls will use this weekend’s meet to find out where the team stands and give some of the younger members a chance to get their feet wet.

“It’s just a real good opening meet,” Thiel said. “Some of our people will run just one race, so the younger kids will have the show, so to speak.

“We’ve been training since August and we know how some of the kids will compete. Saturday will be a good indication of how some of our sophomores are going to respond.”

Thiel said the main difference between indoor and outdoor track and field competitions is indoor meets seem to move at a faster pace.

“They run on a 200-meter track instead of a 400-meter track, so the laps seem to be moving faster, although the times don’t (decrease),” Thiel said.

“It has a real high energy, high impact feeling to it.”

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