With several key ingredients returning from a team that narrowly missed a Conference USA championship last season, the USF women’s indoor track and field team has decided that nothing less than a conference title will be acceptable this year.
“Winning the conference is definitely our goal this year,” USF coach Greg Thiel said. “Anything else would be a disappointment. That’s the position we feel like we’ve put ourselves in, and it is the level we know we need to compete at.”
The team opens the season in Columbus on Saturday for the Buckeye Invitational at Ohio State. USF opens its schedule one week earlier than usual, hoping to give extra experience to some of the younger athletes.
“This is going to be a small meet, with just four teams in it, so we’re starting a week early to let our freshmen get a head start on the year,” Thiel said.
With several returning members from last year’s team, solid performances from the team’s freshmen could be the difference between a conference title and a repeat of last season’s second place, Thiel said.
Leading the crop of returning athletes is senior Alexis McGaffagan. Last year’s C-USA champion in the pentathlon, McGaffagan was one of 14 qualifiers for the event in the U.S. Track and Field Championships last year.
USF will compete at five indoor meets before the C-USA championships in Houston on Feb. 27 and 28.