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Track hopes to run away with regionals

When Jimmy Baxter travels to Gainesville this weekend for the NCAA East regional track and field tournament, he is bringing a revamped jumping approach.

“Instead of a power jumper the coaches wanted to make me a higher jumper,” Baxter said in a press release. “They trained me to be more consistent, and I have been this year.”

“I know I can jump high, but there is a time and a place for it to happen,” he said.

The senior qualified for the regional at the Florida Relays in March with a jump of 7 feet 2 1/2 inches. This season, he also finished first at the FSU Relays and the USF invitational, and ended up in second at the C-USA Championships.

Baxter seems very laid back going into the big weekend where athletes must finish at least fifth to qualify for the NCAA Championships.

“I go and enjoy myself. Either you’re going to jump well or you’re not,” Baxter said. “Preparing is for the week before. Some people make too big a deal out of preparing just before an event. I just want to have fun and cheer my teammates on.”

He’s also hoping to leave a little bit of a legacy behind.

“I want people to remember that I gave it all I had,” Baxter said.

Three other USF men qualified for the regional. Jonathan Miller looks to at least equal his C-USA and school pole vault record of 17 feet 4 1/2 inches. The sophomore has been the C-USA outdoor champion both his years at USF.

Freshman Robert Fennel will compete in the discus.

In addition to the men, eight women will make the trip to the regional, including Conference USA Female Athlete of the Year Dayana Octavian, who will compete in the discus and the hammer throw. Fellow thrower Chandra Brewer will compete in the shot put and the discus. Both made it through the regional in 2003 and competed in the NCAA Championship.

Amber Delpino and Claire Ragot represent USF in the 400-meter hurdles. Both will look to build on momentum they picked up at the C-USA tournament May 13-15. Delpino won her event at the tournament while Ragot finished fifth.

Delpino will also see action in the 4×400-meter relays. The senior teams up with Karoline Hagen, Altaria Hawkins and Trendesha Gillyard. The foursome finished second at the conference tournament.

Coach Greg Theil said he has high hopes for the group of athletes he brings to the regional and expects many to make the nationals.

“Everybody looks great, so we hope to get a good group going to nationals,” he said.