The track and field team will start its season Friday at the Texas A&M Invitational, an indoor meet in which the Wildcats will face big Div. I competitors, such as Baylor, Louisiana Tech, Texas State and TCU.
The invitational has been ACU’s season opener for the last two spring seasons, both featured successful performances from the men and women.
The Wildcats are expected to show greater progress this year at the meet than in the past as head coach Keith Barnier takes on his second year of coaching at ACU with a talented roster that includes 18 newcomers from various locations around the world.
In the 2014 meet, the women’s team placed 10th while the men finished seventh overall, but both teams plan to surpass those standings this year.
“My expectations for the team this year are a lot higher than last year,” said Kenzie Walker, sophomore pole vaulter. “I consider last year a learning year for all those involved because it was the first year competing as an actual Div. I school. My goals are also set higher; my sights are no longer just at clearing barely 13 feet, but flying over it.”
Daniel Block, senior from Canada, is expected to lead his class once again after an impressive 2014 spring campaign, which included a second-place finish in the men’s 200 meters at the A&M Invitational. Block’s improvements in the cross country season last fall indicate he is in top shape for his track and field competition.
During the cross country season, Diana Garcia Munoz, sophomore from Phoenix, impressed the conference when she placed as ACU’s number-two runner in six cross country meets.
Munoz earned a couple of prestigious honors during the season. She was awarded a spot on the all-Southland Conference team at fifth place and was selected as the Academic Cross Country Runner of the Year.
With 27 returners in addition to its newcomers, the track and field team will have competitors who are able to contribute impressive skills in each meet.
“I know the freshmen will bring in raw talent and a great work ethic,” Walker said.
After a productive offseason, this first meet is one of only three that precede the Southland Conference Indoor Championships in Birmingham, Alabama, Feb. 16-17. The ‘Cats’ first outing will be a good indicator of what they will need to improve to be top competitors a month from now.
The Texas A&M meet is a two-day event which will begin Friday at noon and continue throughout the day Saturday.