Aug. 18, 2014
FORT WORTH, Texas - GoFrogs.com recently sat down with TCU's director of track & field and cross country Darryl Anderson to find out about the offseason and the TCU track & field program.
What has the summer been like for you since the end of the season?
"It's been hectic and really busy. We had to go through the process of hiring a new assistant coach and we've accomplished that. The task at this point has been getting her situated. All type of other scheduling and recruiting started July 1, so it's been really busy."
What are some of the highlights from your time coaching at TCU?
"From a recruiting standpoint, we've had a high rate of success with kids graduating. I know that was something that administration talked strongly about when they hired me. They wanted to make sure that the academic culture is corrected and we've done that. From an athletic performance perspective, we've had a lot of individual success. When we were in the Mountain West, we won a couple of conference titles. Whitney Gipson won NCAA titles and set an NCAA record. Lorraine Ugen, Jackson Langat and Charles Silmon all won an NCAA title. Beyond them winning, we've had a lot of success as far as our student-athletes garnering All-America status. I don't think I ever pick one particular highlight and take that to bed with me, but I feel like we've had a good amount of individual success. The next step is that we need to parlay the individual success into team success.
The end goal is obviously a team national championship, what are some of the goals that you've set for the team and for yourself for the upcoming season?"On the women's side, I think the work ethic has to be corrected. Last year, we were really young. We had an inordinate amount of new people and freshman who didn't understand what it meant to put your nose down and go to work as a collegiate Division I track & field student-athlete in the Big 12 Conference. I think this year we have to really grind it in because we have to get them to understand it is really going to have a bearing on the amount of success they have. There's no magic potion in sports, other than work. If you put the work in, then you're going to have success. If you don't put the work in, it really doesn't matter. The bottom line is they need to come in on a day-to-day basis and have a stern, hard-nosed work ethic. That's really what we need to push to our women. If we can do that then I think we can have some success.
"On the men's side, we had some injuries issues last season, but we have those corrected. We have to do a good job of procuring good health. From a personnel standpoint, we have a very talented group of guys here. Guys like, Ronnie Baker, Raymond Bozmans, Adam Damadzic, Ramone Bailey, and then the football guys that competed for us last year; Jordan Moore, Kolby Listenbee and Cameron Echols-Luper. We have a lot of talent on our men's team. The key is making sure that when we get down to the end of the year at conference, regionals and nationals, that our talent is still standing. I think last year was one of those rare occasions for me that we were bottlenecked with a lot of problems. I've spent a lot of the summer going through all of that stuff and figuring what we need to do to improve in that area. I think every coach does that in that area whether you have success or not. It's the same thing I did when Charles Silmon and Lorraine Ugen won their NCAA titles. We looked and said, okay we won but what could we do better? We just have to do that and I think we have on the men's side. We are going to be very competitive at the NCAA meet if everything hits right. Which means being top-20 or top -10. The 4x100 and 4x400 should be players in the meet. We added a couple guys but for the most part all of those guys are coming back. It should be a very competitive situation. Ronnie Baker ran 10.21 last year, so I think he has a chance if he continues to grow. Raymond Bozmans ran 6.60 in the indoor season prior to hurting himself, so he has a chance to improve and put himself in a position. We have a variety of other guys who have that same type of ability and if the development is right then they can also make that progress."
How have you seen the program grow in your time here?
"Not just the program, but the athletic department, with adjustments in administration and moving over to being in the Big 12 Conference. It's been night and day since December 2004 when I walked on campus. Our program has changed immensely from being in the Mountain West Conference to moving into the Big 12. This will be our third year in the Big 12, so really our second opportunity at recruiting Big 12 caliber student-athletes. Hopefully, this year and the following year we should really see the kind of success we want to see. Two years ago being our first year in, we did a little bit better than we did this past year. I think this year we should start seeing some consistent performance out of both of our teams that will be on par with league foes."
How has being in the Big 12 helped with recruiting?
"It's helped, but it's also made it harder because guess what, you're in the Big 12, so now you're recruiting a higher level kid. The funny thing about it is that we were always recruiting Big 12 type athletes. Now, we're in the Big 12, so there's a little bit more head-knocking with Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor and Texas A&M, even though they're in the SEC. Those were always the ones we recruited against anyway but the pool has gotten greater. Our program has gotten wider based as far as recruiting those kids because there's more competition against those schools. We're excited about moving into the third year in the league because you hope year three or four you start seeing the movement and jumps that you want to have happen. I think all of our sports, not just track and field, these next two years we will really start reaping the benefits of being in the conference. I think that's going to be huge."
There's two meets this season for the first time since 2010, what was behind the decision to bring back the Horned Frog Invite?
"It's always been something that we had planned to do. When we dropped the meet, we were in the process of getting ready to have the track re-done. We decided we would do only one meet and we didn't want to get rid of the high school meet because the meet in March is conducive with high school. They start their districts and regions to state in April, so we couldn't have our meet in April and connect it with the high school. That was the thought behind it. We figured now was a good time to add back the second meet."
Speaking of changes to the track, is there anything different fans will notice at the Lowdon Track & Field Complex for the March and April meets?
"Well, we're adding bleachers, a press box and a storage area. We are moving up in the direction we need to because recruiting is no more than keeping up with the Jones' these days. If you're going to be with the big boys, you have to have big boy equipment, gear and facilities. Otherwise, you're behind and you're fighting a losing battle.
How has track & field at the collegiate level changed throughout your coaching career?
"The changes have been astronomical. From how many coaches you can have on the staff, to the way the competitions are, to even how you get to the NCAA Championships. Then you have conference re-alignment. You had the standard rivalries and the standard schools, like the A&M and Texas rivalries, and those things are changing because of conference re-alignment. Even though those are mainly hot topics for football and basketball, it really impacts the other sports, like track and field.
TCU has had a rich history in the sprints, how has that put TCU on the map?
"It's one of the things that when people look at TCU from the outside, and myself when I looked at TCU before I got here, I thought of it as a sprint school. You knew they were going to have a 4x100 and some 100-meter guys, while also hitting or missing on some other areas, infrequently. A lot of people still look at it the same way and that's where a lot of our success has been. Our staff has kind of flipped it a little bit and had some success in some other areas, like the women's long jump or when Jackson Langat won the 800. We've kind of had some small diversification, but for the most part we've tried to stay strong in the areas that we've traditionally been strong here."
Voting for The Bowerman Trophy is happening now, Whitney Gipson (2012) and Charles Silmon (2013) were both semifinalists, how has that helped the program?
"That's the Heisman Trophy of track and field basically. When you have someone who is a semifinalist for that award, or even in the conversation for that award, it's huge. It helps with recruiting, it helps with how the outside, or the rest of the track community views your program. So, it's very helpful."