By Jared Fields, Editor in Chief
A year ago at the national indoor meet in Boston, the Wildcat women placed fourth despite key injuries and a lack of depth in the relays.
This year, however, the ACU women’s track and field team is young, talented and deep at many events.
This combination has head coach Don Hood optimistic about the team’s season.
“I don’t think we’re a fourth place team,” Hood said. Hood added he believes his team can give defending champion Saint Augustine a battle, also.
“What we’ve got is good quality,” Hood said. “We have balanced jumps and throwing events. It’s tough to beat St. Aug’s head-to-head in running events.”
The Wildcats are deeper in their running events, with as many as seven women available to run on the relay teams.
Senior Shawna-Kaye Thompson is one of the athletes responsible for trying to earn points for her team when the national meet approaches. During the fall, Hood had a team decathlon to add some competition into the fall training. Hood said Thompson, “dominated it.”
Thompson failed to compete in the national meet last year because she strained her left hamstring in 60m hurdles warm-ups.
“The chemistry is good; everybody’s excited,” Thompson said. “We just focus on this one meet and then one meet at a time.”
Thompson will compete in the 4×400 relay at Texas Tech this weekend and the 60m hurdles, where she’s won the event the previous three years.
Thompson is one of just a handful of seniors on a team led by younger athletes.
Junior Kim Prather was named as one of the women’s two team captains this year, and said she is relishing the role.
“I feel like I’ve been a captain since my freshman year,” Prather said. “As for being a junior, we are the role models.”
Prather qualified for the national indoor meet in the 60-meter dash where she will compete again this year along with the 200-meter dash and the 4x400m relay.
But for all the depth for the women in the sprints, Hood said he believes the balance the field events add to the team will contribute most to the Wildcats’ success.
Shot-putter Kelli Clements returns with high expectations for her indoor season after she earned all-American honors at last year’s national indoor meet.
“I want to break the school record and win nationals,” Clements said. “I got stronger and faster and my technique got better.”
Another element to the team will be the distance runners.
“Mary Mwangi could run a 2:06 or 2:07,” Hood said about Mwangi’s possible time in the 800m. Last year at indoor nationals, Mwangi finished third in the 800m with a time of
“She’s doing things she hasn’t done in the past,” Hood said.
Hood also said that Loice Cheboi is much improved from last year.
Most of the women’s team is traveling to Texas Tech this weekend, but the distance medley relay team will go to Arkansas to compete in the Razorback Invitational.
All three women and Hood said they believe this is one of the best women’s teams ACU has had, but as captain, Prather must spread her confidence to the rest of the team.
“As a whole, the women’s team is underestimated. We have a strong team and can prove we have a strong team,” Prather said. “It’s about the women’s team this year.”