TCU Track & Field Preview
Jan. 14, 2005
Tradition. It's not something that's easily built or easily torn down. TCU has built a strong tradition on the track over the past two decades.
But now there's a new look to TCU Track & Field.
Former Arizona State assistant coach Darryl Anderson has taken over the reins of the Flyin' Frog program and has enlisted an entirely new staff, which includes highly-regarded field event specialist John Kenneson and former NCAA Female Track & Field Athlete of the Year D'Andre Hill. "I'm excited about the staff we've been able to put together," said Anderson, who was the 2004 MONDO Men's National Assistant Coach of the Year. "We're working to get everything in motion and hit the ground running. This will be a hard-working staff that will make sure everyone in the program gets that `personal touch' to help them get the most out of their abilities."
The changes on the coaching staff are just part of the new look for the Frogs in 2005, especially on the men's side of the ledger.
Gone are Michael Frater, Jerry Harris, Aundre Edwards and Jabari Fields who combined for 20 all-America certificates over the past three years. That quartet had a major role in helping the Frogs place eighth at the 2004 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships and earn a tie for fourth place in the team standings at the 2004 NCAA Outdoor meet.
"That was a tremendous senior group that really stepped up at the national level," noted Anderson. "We will have a lot of new faces and will be much younger this year with just two scholarship seniors, but I feel good about the headline guys we have coming back, plus we added several standout athletes who will help us make the transition."
Despite a changing of the guard, both on and off the track, don't expect the focus of the Flyin' Frogs program to change dramatically.
"Make no mistake - our strength will remain in the sprints and relays," said Anderson. "TCU has a longstanding tradition of excellence in the sprints and relays and we expect to continue and build upon that tradition. We expect to be competing at the NCAA level in both relays. I told them the first day, one thing we will do is run fast. The beauty of this team," continued Anderson, "is that we have some other guys in the distance events to help balance us out. As we move this program along, we want to have national-caliber athletes, not only in the sprints and relays, but in the distance and field events as well."
Headlining the list of returnees is 800-meter specialist Jackson Langat. A four-time all-American, Langat finished fourth at the NCAA indoor meet a year ago, but was hampered by an injury that forced him to miss the entire 2004 outdoor season. He hopes to be back at 100 percent for the 2005 season and could contend for the national title in the 800.
Sprinter Cleavon Dillon is the lone returning point scorer from the 2004 NCAA Outdoor Championships. Dillon ran a leg on TCU's 2003 and 2004 4x100 meter relay squads and was an NCAA qualifier in the 100 meter dash last year. His experience will be counted on heavily.
The Frogs distance efforts will be bolstered by BYU transfer Kip Kangogo. Kangogo was the sixth-place finisher at the 2003 NCAA Indoor Championships in the 3000 meters and should be a national title contender in the mile run or 3K during the indoor season and in the 1500 meters during the outdoor season.
Anderson expects immediate contributions from a trio of incoming freshmen, all of whom were highly regarded prep athletes a year ago.
"Bradley Reed, Jay Cooper and Jacob Hernandez all figure to be immediate impact athletes," said Anderson. Reed and Cooper figure in the 100 and 200 meter sprints, while Hernandez is a half-mile specialist. Otis McDaniel is another freshman who was a nationally-recognized 100 and 200 meter sprinter a year ago and is attending TCU on a football scholarship. His appearance on the track would give the Frogs another elite sprinter and make the loss of Frater and Fields more bearable.
Anderson is expected to have several athletes competing for spots on the two relay squads. The 4x1 will be some combination of Dillon, Reed, Cooper, McDaniel and Delwayne Delaney, while the 4x4 should feature a foursome from among Brett Wilson, Ché Chavez, Langat, Hernandez, Reed, Cooper and McDaniel.
With the likes of Wilson, Chavez, Langat, Hernandez and Kangogo, the Frogs also have the makings of an outstanding distance medley relay squad to compete during the indoor season.
NCAA national long jump qualifier Jonathan Jackson is the Frogs' top field event hopeful, but Anderson hopes to get some mileage off the TCU football practice fields, with Texas prep champion discus thrower Robert Clark and former state shot put champion Cody Moore finding their way to the throwing circles.
Unlike the men, the TCU women's squad was not hit hard by graduation. They are coming off their first-ever conference team title, taking the 2004 Conference USA Indoor Championship, while missing out on the league's outdoor team title by a single point. This year's squad features a young and talented group of sprinters and hurdlers that now has added experience to its resumé.
The women are led by junior sprinter Donita Harmon who has earned three all-America certificates. Harmon's featured event is the 200, but she has range from 100 to 400 meters and figures to run a leg on the relay squads as well.
A slew of sophomore sprinters may hold the key to the Frogs' fortunes this season. The group gained valuable experience last year, and now needs to take charge and take the program to the next level. That group includes short sprinters Jamee Jones and Virgil Hodge, hurdler MaKeatha Cooper, quartermilers Marquita Davis and Deborah Jones and middle distance runner Calandra Stewart. Jamee Jones and Hodge earned all-America certificates last year as part of the Frogs' 4x100 meter relay unit which placed seventh at the NCAA meet in June. Cooper was the indoor and outdoor conference champion in the straight hurdles and earned a trip to the NCAA meet during the outdoor season. Davis is coming off a foot injury which sidelined her for the entire outdoor season. When healthy, she and Deborah Jones form two of the four legs on the school indoor record-setting 4x400 meter relay squad. Stewart is coming off a great cross country season in which she earned all-region honors and a trip to the national championship. She figures to be much improved in the middle distance events this season.
The Frogs signed three freshmen who are expected to contribute at the conference level in their first season in a TCU uniform. Jordan Durham is a 400 meter specialist who is a candidate for both relay squads, while Cassie Hostick and Hallie Bulin will try to make up for the loss of Mary Kinyanjui to graduation in the distance events.
The competition will be strong for the two relays, with several candidates emerging for each quartet. The sprint relay will most likely be comprised from among Harmon, Kandis Bell, Jamee Jones, Cooper, Marquita Davis, Durham and Hodge, while the mile relay could have Deborah Jones, Marquita Davis, Durham, Bell, Harmon, Cooper or Julie Curtis.
Although limited in numbers, the Frogs look to get some points from the field events in 2005. JimAnne Baker, who is on a basketball scholarship at TCU, is expected to join the track squad once her season ends on the hardwood. She was an NCAA qualifier in the long jump as a freshman last season. Sophomore shot putter Zelma Wade, a former Texas state high school champion, looks to improve on her third place finish at the conference indoor meet from a year ago.
Although the look may be different in 2005, the expectations of top conference and national finishes remain the same at TCU.