Making their marks

The outdoor track and field season ended two weeks ago at the NCAA championship meet in Baton Rouge, La. The Bulls had a successful campaign this year, culminating in many great achievements.

Senior Tara Quinn was the national runner-up and All-American in the 10,000 meters. Jimmy Baxter held the best high jump mark in the country for most of the season. Quinn and Baxter were the Bulls’ representatives at the NCAA championships, and the team had three other provisional qualifiers.

The women’s team finished in third place for the second consecutive year at the Conference USA championship. Two C-USA championship meet records were broken as Dayana Octavien set the mark in the discus throw and Tara Quinn in the 10,000 meters.

“The conference meet kind of mirrored the season,” said coach Greg Thiel. “Dayana Octavien, Chandra Brewer, Alexis McGaffagan and Tara Quinn had a great conference meet. The kids who struggled all year continued to do so at conference.”

One of the main issues of concern for the coaching staff throughout the year was consistency. While many of the top performers were able to compete at a high level week in and week out, the coaching staff felt they did not get the same results from the entire team. According to Thiel, many of the younger athletes had an up-and-down season. They were not prepared for the competition at the collegiate level, and, therefore, their performances were inconsistent.

Throughout the year, many USF school records were broken. Jimmy Baxter shattered his own record in the high jump. Octavien broke the record in the discus throw. Freshmen Bente General and Robert Fennel broke school records in the 800 meters and the shot put, respectively. Freshman Brewer smashed the record in the shot put. McGaffagan set the school standard in the heptathlon.

One of the main successes of the team was how the young freshman came in and contributed immediately. Brewer qualified provisionally for the NCAA championship and just barely missed an invitation. General was one of the team’s top performers in the 800 meters and the 4×400 relay.

“Bente and Chandra stand out as having a great season,” said Thiel. “The freshmen men also did a great job. There were not many of them, but they did excellent. Robert Fennel and Jim Vitale both did a great job.”

It is the hope of the coaching staff that they can get the same results from next year’s freshman class. A number of highly sought after men have decided to come to USF. Among the recruits are a state champion in the shot put and a state champion in the pole vault. Also on the list is an 800-meter runner from Switzerland and two distance runners from Canada.

“We look pretty strong on the men’s side. With what we recruited, we are pretty excited,” said Thiel.

Seniors leaving for next season are Tara Quinn and her sister Tiffany. Also leaving is Andrew Smith.

The athletes will resume workouts later this month in preparation for next year’s season. Many will be preparing for the cross country season starting in the fall, while others will train for the indoor track season starting in the winter.