By Jared Fields, Managing Editor
On paper, the men’s and women’s track teams may not be the favorites, but a title at the national indoor meet would not be that far of a stretch for the imagination.
“Sneaking up from behind is a lot easier,” said head coach Don Hood.
Hood was referring to the men sneaking up, who qualified 12 people for the meet, with Johnny Jacob, Nicodemus Naimadu and Julius Nyango participating in more than one event.
Naimadu, the reigning national cross country champion, qualified for three events: the mile, 5,000k and as part of the distance medley relay team.
“Twelve is a lot of guys. If every guy scores six points, that’s 72 points,” Hood said. “They do what they’re capable of doing, and we’re in the hunt.”
While 72 points can put a team in the hunt for a title, not having a mile-relay team at nationals, as the Wildcats have had in the past, puts more pressure on each individual.
“We are under pressure. We do have the potential to win,” said Sylvester Williamson, who qualified in the 60-meter dash. “All we need to do is have our qualifiers have better scores than the other team’s.”
Senior Marvin Bien-Aime echoed Williamson’s thoughts on the pressure. In previous years, Bien-Aime said he could run without pressure because of a larger number of qualifiers. He said there is no nervousness now, but he does sense greater individual pressure.
“I’m not going into it nervous at all,” Bien-Aime said. “Now that we’re thin, we’re getting to feel what pressure is like.”
For the men, there is a lot of talk about performing to the level each member is capable of. The only concern is if that will happen or not.
“As far as capability, if we just do what we’ve done then we’ll be alright,” Hood said.
The women’s team, Hood said, is right where he thought they would be at this point. Fourteen women qualified for the meet, and Shawna Kaye-Thompson was the only one to qualify in three events: the 60-meter hurdles, 200-meter dash and in the 4×400-meter relay. Seven other women qualified in two events.
Denise Morgan is one of those who qualified in two events. Morgan is a member of the distance medley relay and will run the 800 meters.
“We have a very good chance because we have the most ranked very high and everybody is healthy,” Morgan said. “I am looking forward to returning the championship.”
Morgan’s words spoke for the entire team, according to Hood.
“They want to be the team that brings it back,” Hood said, referring to the women’s national championship. “Everybody’s pulling for everybody.”