When the five USF track and field athletes that qualified head to Austin, Tex. for the NCAA Championships this week, coach Greg Thiel does not want them to be content just to be there.
“If that is their attitude, then we’d just as soon they stay home,” Thiel said. “They need to go there, just like any other meet, and try to be an All-American.”
Five is the most athletes USF has ever sent to the NCAAs. Jimmy Baxter (high jump) and Jaydian Miller (long jump) represent the men’s team while Chandra Brewer (shot put), Dayana Octavien (discus, hammer throw) and Amber Delpino (400-meter hurdles) represent the women’s team.
“The goal, like any other meet, is they want to go there and do their best and try to come back as an All-American,” Thiel said. “I think that’s the goal and if you asked any one of those five, that’s what they’d say.”
Thiel expects at least two of the athletes to compete for the national championship.
“Jimmy and Dayana, I mean, where they are and where they’re ranked and how they are in their particular events — wow. If it’s their day they could easily be the national champion,” Thiel said. “It’s not out of the realm of possibility.
“(Baxter) certainly is as good as any high jumper in the country and Dayana is better than most every thrower in the country in the discus, so if it happens to be their day and they’re on, you bet (they could win).”
Baxter was an All-American last season and in 2001. This is the fourth year in a row he has made the championships. His best finish was sixth in the nation his freshman year.
Octavien has the second-longest collegiate discus throw this year. She was All-American in 2003 at the indoor track and field championships.
To earn All-American status, athletes must finish in the top eight in their event.
“We’ve been pretty fortunate that every year we’ve come home with at least one All-American, because it’s tough,” Thiel said. “To end up in the top eight in the whole nation is tough.
“This is the cream of the crop and the best of their peers, so we want them to enjoy themselves and really have a good time, but also want them to try to make that top eight, for sure,” he said.
Brewer was an All-American in last year’s NCAAs and Delpino enters the tournament for the first time.
Miller hopes to become the only USF freshman other than Baxter to become All-American during his first year.