Houston,USF in the title chase

The USF women’s indoor track and field team enters the most important meet of its season when it travels to Houston this weekend for the Conference USA Championships.

The Bulls produced a great season this year, breaking numerous school records along with nearly every individual setting a personal best.

It became a routine throughout the year to re-write the record books, and the Bulls know what they need to do in order to bring home a conference title.

“I think just staying consistent,” junior Alexis McGaffagan said. “Every meet we go out and break records, and if we just keep doing what we’ve been doing all season, I think we’ll be good to go.”

USF finished second last year to Houston, but returned nearly every competitor from a year ago. But USF coach Greg Thiel said the Bulls will have a tough challenge against the host Cougars.

“We’re a better team than we were last year, but so is Houston,” Thiel said. “So it will be an interesting meet in terms of who will get help from some of the other teams.”

Thiel said TCU and Marquette are the two teams that could play a significant role in USF’s battle with Houston.

“TCU has some great sprinters that will hurt Houston a little bit, and Marquette has some great distance runners that will hurt us, so we’ll see how it will play out.

“On paper, we can win it or (Houston) can win it, but TCU and Marquette will play a big role in the outcome of who wins this meet.”

Thiel said the key for the Bulls to be successful is to take advantage of the events in which they have an edge on Houston, specifically jumps, throws and the mile.

“You look at the places where (Houston) has no one and we have some quality people, and that is where we have to make our moves,” Thiel said. “Those are the events you really want to excel in, and hopefully in the other events, our kids get in there and break up some things.”

Running the mile for the Bulls is sophomore Bente General, who broke the school record earlier this season. General also will defend her title in the 800 meters.

“I’m ready to defend (the 800m title),” General said.

“I think I can win the 800m and the mile, too. It’s a load, but I think I’m going to do fine.”

General won’t be the only Bull with a busy day, as McGaffagan is set to compete in the pentathlon, high jump, hurdles and 4x400m relay team.

“She’s got a tall order, but a lot of kids do,” Thiel said. “It’s the conference championship — you expect them all to step up and do more than they’re supposed to do because it’s all about scoring points.”

One Bull who should be able to earn some significant points is Chandra Brewer, who will compete in the shot put and the 20-pound weight throw. Brewer owns the best mark in the conference in the shot put this season as well as a provisional qualifying mark for the NCAA Championships. But in the weight throw, Brewer feels she needs to make an improvement.

“On the weight, I really have to be on top of my game,” Brewer said. “I’ve just got to go out there and perform. Like every meet, you want to perform at your best.”

Brewer said the key for the Bulls to perform their best is to remain focused on the goal of winning the conference title.

“I really think we’ve got to go out there with a good attitude and everybody wanting to win, and that will allow a lot of positive things to happen,” Brewer said. “We just need to keep our heads focused on what we need to do and go out there and have fun.

“Have fun and have a good attitude. I think that’s the best formula for winning.”