May 31, 2013
“Road to Eugene” takes a look at the individual competitors or relays that will be competing at the NCAA Outdoor Championships June 5-8 in Eugene, Ore. We will review their season both indoors and outdoors, look back at TCU’s history in the event, who are the top contenders that will be in Eugene and what the future holds for TCU for those athletes and in those events.
It is important for programs to consistently assert themselves in events that have helped make the program name in the past. For TCU, that means continuing the success they have seen in the men’s 4x100-meter relay. This year’s quartet is a blend of star talent at the moment, and the promise of the future.
All of TCU’s 10 4x100 relay teams this season have had at least two freshmen, and five of those teams have consisted of three freshmen. The lineup has been fairly consistent as well. Charles Silmon has run the second leg in all 10 relays, Ronnie Baker has taken the stick third in nine meets and Raymond Bozmans has run the anchor leg on nine relays. The changes have been up front, but the results have been the same.
The Frogs started the outdoor season with the quartet of Baker, Silmon, Harvey McSwain and Bozmans at home. An injury to Bozmans brought together the quartet of Ramone Bailey, Silmon, Baker and McSwain for its next meet at Baylor. Then two big performances looked to have locked in the lineup as the group of Bailey, Silmon, Baker and Bozmans went 39.54 at the Texas Relays followed by a 39.42 at the UCLA-LSU double-dual meet.
An injury to Bailey prior to TCU’s second meet at Baylor opened the door for McSwain to get back into the fold. The new quartet went 39.55 at TCU’s second meet at Baylor. When the decision to sit Bailey out of the Big 12 Championships came to fruition, McSwain stepped in again as the 4x100 team clinched the Big 12 Championship in Waco in 39.61. The Frogs were all in with McSwain leading off as they went on to post the top qualifying time in the West Region in 39.49.
McSwain’s top event is the 200 and he brings his expertise in the corners to lead off the relay. He hands off to Silmon, one of the nation’s top sprinters who has a straightaway and a green light to go fast. Baker is an intelligent runner to go with his immense talent and knows his role in ensuring the hard-charging Silmon is able to execute the hand-off and continue the relay. That leaves Bozmans on the anchor, who has been in his best form of the outdoor season right now, when it counts.
History at the NCAA Championships
This year marks the 50th running of the men’s 4x100 at the NCAA Championships. Five times, TCU has won the NCAA title in the event. TCU also has the honor of holding the collegiate record in the 4x100 with a 38.04 in 1998.
The Frogs are 22-time finalists in the event, but have not made the top-eight since 2009 when the quartet of Mark Barnes, Otis McDaniel, Mychal Dungey and 2012 Olympian Justyn Warner finished eighth.
The race to the NCAA title looked like a shoo-in for Texas A&M, the only team in the nation to go under 38.90 this season with a best of 38.64 at the Texas Relays in March. However, a shocking turn of events happened in Austin at the West Preliminaries. The Aggies, who were running next to TCU in the heat, were unable to complete the pass between their third leg and anchor in the exchange zone and were disqualified.
TCU comes into the meet as the No. 4 seed and the top seed out of the West Preliminaries. The Horned Frogs’ 39.42 season-best time ranks ninth nationally. However, the Frogs beat four teams ahead of them at the West Preliminaries and the two times TCU and No. 2 seed LSU have raced this year, the Frogs have come out ahead at the Texas Relays and the UCLA-LSU double-dual meet. TCU and top seed Alabama, with a time of 39.09 at the East Preliminaries, have not competed against each other this season.
TCU will no longer have Silmon after the NCAA Championships, but the future is very bright. Baker, Bozmans and McSwain will all be sophomores with a trip to the final rounds of the NCAA Outdoor Championships under their belt. Before his injuries that have slowed down his progress, Bailey was sprinting and jumping at the highest level of his career.
Two freshmen who competed during the indoor season but has sat out the outdoor season, Michael Owusu-Peprah and Sam Watts, will both try to put their hats into the ring. Owusu-Peprah’s best event is the 100 with the Ghanaian holding a PR of 10.48. Watts has been very strong competing unattached and will be one of TCU’s top sprinters in 2014.
Also looking to become a contender will be incoming freshman Malik Summers. The Lewisville native was very strong before an injury slowed him down right before the Texas State Championships. He holds PRs of 10.35 in the 100 and 21.26 in the 200.