The USF track and field team will take on an array of Michigan colleges this weekend when they compete in the Michigan Invitational in Ann Arbor.
“We sought them out,” USF coach Greg Thiel said. “We wanted to go up against some Big Ten schools.”
The indoor track meet will feature five Michigan schools including the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, both members of the Big Ten. Thiel, a native of Michigan, has established a rapport with the Michigan coaches and attended this event last season. Assistant coaches Rita Arndt and Don Marsh are also from Michigan.
The main reason for going up North to compete is the fact that there is a lack of indoor arenas in the South. Thiel said that UF is one of the only schools around that has an indoor facility.
“Gainesville is it,” Thiel said. “There is not a lot in the Southeast.”
The field of seven schools will include only one more non-Michigan college; Pittsburgh, which is a future rival and current member of the Big East. Other than USF, Pittsburgh, UM and MSU, Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Grand Valley State University and Hillsdale College will be competing.
Thiel said that this would be the first event where he is really going to be able to measure his athletes. He said he is going to put them in their respective events this time around instead of trying new things. Other than falling into their regular routine, Theil said he is looking for his team to be consistent throughout the competition.
“We preach to our kids about consistent performances,” Thiel said. “We want nice, strong performances across the board.”
Chandra Brewer, USF’s standout thrower, has consistently improved. After a solid performance in the opening meet of the season where she finished second, Brewer again finished in the top five Saturday, this time breaking a USF record for the shotput.
“She is going to keep getting better and better,” Thiel said. “I don’t see a ceiling, she will just get better.”
Other than his strong shot-putter, Thiel said he is quite excited about his sprinting squad. Although the squad is young, he said that he sees a lot of potential.