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Back to Chapel Hill

The USF indoor track and field team returns today to the scene of its record setting performance a week ago at North Carolina. Only this time there is one major difference. Instead of competing against nine other teams, this week’s meet will host an astounding 65 teams.

Head coach Gregory Thiel said the number of teams at the meet will make for headaches throughout the weekend.

“What they’re trying to do is impossible,” Thiel said. “Had we known at the time (of scheduling) they were going to have 65 teams at an indoor meet, we were going to stay away from there.”Thiel said the meet, which will take place in what he describes as a small building with a track inside, will attempt to accommodate 5,000 people, which is as many as outdoor meets.

“I don’t know how they’re even going to fit all the people in the building,” he said.

Thiel said the biggest problem is the scheduling of the events. Some events, he said, will have an hour and a half time frame. Such a large gap can cause problems for athletes as they attempt to warm up and prepare mentally for an event.

“One hundred and twenty athletes in each event and only a six-lane track, you do the math,” he said. “It’s really hard to get an idea on when you’re running.”

Thiel said the difficulty of this meet has affected the team’s preparation during practice this week.

“We kind of changed the training and just hoped for the best,” he said. “We tell (the athletes) to go there with a really good attitude.”

Much of Thiel’s concerns coming into the season centered around the youth of the team. Thiel said this meet will be tough on the young athletes as they face a long road trip for the second straight week.

“It’ll wear on them, they’ll be tired,” he said. “This is a meet, I don’t ever want to say that, but our expectations aren’t as high as other meets.”

Thiel said he feels his team is poised for a good meet, and he hopes the team will have strong performances throughout.

“What we want to see out of all our kids is consistency, and that’s just going to take all year,” he said.

Thiel said he expects to see another good performance from the team’s throwers. Last week, the throwers were led by sophomore Dayana Octavien and freshman Chandra Brewer, who set USF records in the weight throw and shot put respectively. Octavien’s throw also provisionally qualified her for the NCAA meet.

In addition to the throwers, Thiel said he hopes for a good running performance. The runners were led last week by freshman Bente General, who set a new USF record in the 800-meter run. Thiel said this week General will only run the 800-meter race in an attempt to improve her time.

“We’re setting her up to try to qualify for nationals this weekend,” he said.

Thiel said with the fear the meet will last into the early morning hours today, many of the athletes will be left at the hotel until it is their time to compete.

Thiel said he feels his team is ready, but the key to the weekend will be avoiding the distractions that a young team at a large meet could create.

“We’re going to be wide-eyed,” he said. “We have no idea what to expect except for a very long meet.”

  • Rob Brannon