Feb. 21, 2013
FORT WORTH - Another step in the journey of TCU's first season in the Big 12 takes place this weekend when the track and field team competes at the Big 12 Indoor Championships for the first time. The event will take place Saturday and Sunday in Ames, Iowa at Iowa State's Leid Recreation Center.
"I think it is an exciting time for our program," TCU head coach Darryl Anderson said. "Not just for track and field but all of our sports at TCU. For us, we want to get started with our Big 12 participation."
This is a new adventure for most members of the TCU traveling party, the exception being the distance runners who competed at the Big 12 Cross Country Championships in October.
"We have talked as a staff that you can look at how the meet could fall out, on paper," Anderson noted. "You can read through the past year's results, on paper. However, until you go through it you really don't know. We are excited about going into this uncharted territory. This meet will give us a great idea for how we want to handle the outdoor championships in May and future conference championships to come."
This is a new experience not just for TCU, but for the entire Big 12. With the 2012 men's and women's conference indoor champions Texas A&M gone along with Missouri, combined with the addition of TCU in both competitions and West Virginia on the women's side there will be a lot of new faces in Ames this weekend. The departure of the Aggies in particular could be of benefit to the Horned Frogs. Texas A&M was traditionally strong in the sprints, and TCU will be looking to pick up many of those points.
"On the men's side, we are going to have some opportunities to have some success," Anderson stated. "I think our men's sprinters are running well. We are young, energetic and excited, but most importantly of all we are talented. We have the opportunity to rise to a challenge at this meet."
Charles Silmon is the Big 12 leader in the 60-meter dash with his 6.68 from the Auburn Invitational. He will also be in contention in the 200-meter dash. TCU's group of young sprinters will be factors in the 60, 200 and 400-meter dashes.
The TCU women's team swept to the Mountain West championships for both indoor and outdoor track last season. However, the increased competition level in the Big 12 will present a new challenge for the Horned Frogs women. Anderson and the staff hopes that the experience his athletes have from past MWC successes will benefit them.
"On the women's side, when you look at the meet on paper, it looks like it is going to be a real big challenge for us," Anderson stated. "That is paper, though. We want to see how people like Lorraine Ugen, Chaniqua Corinealdi, Agnes Kemboi and Larissa Matthews can contend with the competition. These are all people who have won conference titles, albeit in the Mountain West, but have been on the top step of the podium. The question is how are they going to compete at this new level of competition."
Ugen will be competing for the first time since the Auburn Invitational. Even with missing out on competition for over a month, Ugen still ranks tied for 18th nationally in the women's long jump. Corinealdi has started to come around to form with a good meet at the Texas A&M Invitational two weeks ago. Another similar drop in times between meets will put her near the top of the 60-meter dash.
The competition at Iowa State presents a unique situation. The competition will take place on ISU's flat 300-meter oval, apart from the banked 200-meter ovals TCU has competed on this season. However, the track also closely resembles an outdoor 400-meter oval so the transition should not be as challenging for the Horned Frogs.
"I don't think it effects anything for us," Anderson said. "The most challenging event will be the 200-meter dash. Everything else is going to be fine. If anything, it is going to be more natural. You are not going to be running on a banked surface and it is 300 meters, so it is a lot closer to our outdoor track. Our team is excited about the opportunity to get off the banked track."
With all that in mind, the big picture goal is to still to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships March 8-9 in Fayetteville, Ark. This weekend presents TCU with opportunities to get into the top-16 in individual events or top-12 relays to make the meet.