Track and field will head to Lubbock this Friday to compete in the Texas Tech Masked Rider Open. ACU will join McMurry and Hardin-Simmons at the indoor meet in its third weekend of Div. I competition, with high expectations for the Wildcats after two impressive performances this month.
The spring season has started strong for the Wildcats, with 15 athletes turning in lifetime bests in their opening meet on Jan. 18 at the Texas A&M Invitational. Last week in Norman, Okla., six of the team’s throwers and multi-athletes finished in the top five of their event. This includes a first place finish by Baptiste Kerjean in the men’s weight throw. With such strong showings under their belts already, the ‘Cats appear to be in good shape for this weekend’s meet in Lubbock.
The success so far, however, does not mean the team won’t have obstacles to overcome in its upcoming contests. Junior Daniel Block, who finished second in the men’s 800-meters at Texas A&M, thinks the youth and inexperience of the team can be a challenge, but they have the skills to progress and make a statement this season.
“We’re a very young team, and most of us have only competed once so far, so we haven’t had too many chances to put down some big performances,” Block said. “The potential is definitely there, and a lot of the freshmen are positioning themselves to have successful collegiate careers in the future.”
Assistant coach Jerrod Cook said what the team lacks in age and experience, they make up for in leadership and preparation. He said the seniors are stepping up in their performances and guidance of the younger players, contributing to a stronger team with better timing, patience and poise during competitions.
After the Masked Rider Open, ACU has less than a month to prepare for the Southland Conference Championships in Birmingham, Ala. from Feb. 25-27. Only one meet will take place during that time period, the New Mexico Collegiate classic in Albuquerque on Feb. 7 and 8. The Texas Tech and New Mexico meets will be excellent opportunities for the Wildcats to face top competition and evaluate what to work on to place high in conference championships. Cook said preparation will center on mental readiness and teamwork.
“Track is classified as an individual sport, but no one person can win a team title,” Cook said. “When you are competing for your team and representing your family, your performance elevates to an entirely new level.”