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USF track and field to cap off season at NCAA outdoor championship

USF’s Abdul-Rasheed Saminu (pictured) practicing before heading to the NCAA Championship. ORACLE PHOTO/ TATYANA PURIFOY

Track and field head coach Erik Jenkins is all about taking care of business. 

Jenkins has been with USF since 2019. His fifth year with the team has arguably been the most successful in program history. 

This May, the men’s team won their first conference title in program history at the 2024 Indoor American Athletic Conference championship.    

Last year, former Bull Romaine Beckfor brought back two national wins to Tampa in the high jump event, winning the indoor and outdoor men’s championship.

And this Wednesday, USF is taking eight male athletes and four female athletes to Eugene, Oregon in hopes to win back-to-back NCAA championships.  

Those 12 athletes total a new program record of Bulls who qualified for nationals. 

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 “This preparation started back in September,” Jenkins said. “These young people have had the opportunity to run in some of the biggest meets in the U.S.” 

Jenkins and the program’s staff have put on a show this season. Along with winning the conference title, they also won AAC outdoor coaching staff of the year.

“Our goal was to come in and build this into a championship caliber program at the conference level, and to have success at the national level,” Jenkins said.   

Senior Shevioe Reid and sophomore Abdul-Rasheed Saminu have both qualified for three semifinals this week.

Reid is not a stranger to the big stage. Last year, he also competed at the NCAA championship in Austin, Texas, running in the 4×100-meter relay. 

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The relay came up short and finished 24th, but this year Reid is back on the same stage again. He will be competing in the 200-meter dash, 4×400-meter relay and the 4×100-meter relay once again.

“My mindset is to always win,” Reid said. “I want to qualify for the finals.” 

Reid holds five USF records in the outdoor 200-meter dash, the outdoor 4×100-meter relay, the outdoor 4×400-meter relay, the indoor 200-meter dash and the indoor 4×400-meter relay.

He hopes to add a national championship to those records. 

Related: NOTEBOOK: Track and field team to send multiple athletes to NCAA Championships

Saminu has only been with the Bulls for one year and his list of accomplishments are already long. This will be his first time competing for a national championship with the Bulls outdoors.

Originally from a small village in Nanumba, Ghana, Saminu grew up playing soccer and then was introduced to track by one of his coaches.  

Saminu came to USF from Florida Memorial University in 2023.

“This is the best program I’ve been in so far since I’ve gotten to the U.S.” Saminu said. “The coaches have been putting us in good shape inside and outside of the track.” 

At FMU, he won the 60-meter dash final at the SSAC/Sun Indoor Conference T&F Championships in 2023. During his outdoor season, he also won the 100-meter dash final at the NAIA track and field championship. He even had the top 200-meter dash qualifying time.

In the indoor NCAA finals, Saminu fell short and placed 8th for the 60-meter dash. 

This week, he will be competing in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash and the 4×100-meter relay. 

“I already got rid of my nerves in the indoor season,” Saminu said. “I ran against the same people in the preliminary round at Kentucky. I’m not really afraid of anyone right now.” 

USF’s men’s competition will start on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in Eugene, Oregon at Hayward Field and will be available to broadcast on ESPN2.