Horned Frogs geared for 2006 campaign
Aug. 23, 2006
With students returning to class and the summer months winding down, the TCU cross country team is working overtime in preparation for the 2006 season under the direction of first-year head coach Eric Heins.
With high hopes for the upcoming season, the team is rising early and pounding out miles on the pavement every morning at 6 a.m.
As the team continues to prep for the year, Heins believes that hard work and a competitive attitude will help take the Horned Frogs to the next level.
"In cross country there are some teams that are all about having fun out there and don't care as much about the results," Heins said. "To me, it is about winning. If you are winning, then you are having fun."
"We've got a lot of experience and we've got a lot of guys that have done well on the track," Heins said. "Now it is just a matter of getting them to transfer their success on the track to cross country. We've got to convert that effort into results. Our goal is to improve on what we did last year. I don't expect us to go run with some of the more established programs such as BYU and Colorado State in our first year, but we can run with the rest of the conference."
After posting successful sophomore campaigns, juniors Matt Manly, Steven Solazzo and Cody Cook will be counted on for their consistent performances. Manly, Solazzo and Cook will pair with incoming freshman Festus Kigen to help carry the men's squad.
"We will look for Matt Manly and Steven Solazzo to step up and be leaders on the team," Heins said. "Cody Cook is another individual we expect to be solid for us. He is going to be a kid who is going to be the workhorse of the team.
Kigen, a native of Eldoret, Kenya, joins the Horned Frogs as the only freshman on the men's side. Although he is just a freshman, Kigen has loads of experience and enough talent to qualify for the NCAA Championships.
"Festus Kigen will have the goal of going to nationals as an individual," Heins said. "He has the talent to do it would be great for the program. Hopefully, the rest of the team will be able to build off his success."
"Our goal is to finish in the top three of the conference and go on to qualify for the regional meet with the expectation that we can qualify for the NCAA Championships," Heins said."
Carlene Mayfield and Danielle Selner, who were both two of the top high school seniors last year, lead the talented freshmen class. Mayfield placed fourth at the 5A state cross country meet in 2005, while Selner placed second at the same meet.
Mayfield and Selner will be looked upon to team with Stewart and Davis to help carry the Horned Frogs.
"We've got two outstanding freshmen (Mayfield and Selner) coming in and you put those two in with a national qualifier like Calandra Stewart and a couple others who have really run well in track, and we can have a very successful season."
After qualifying for the NCAA Championships in 2004, Heins has high expectations for Stewart to return to the NCAA Championships.
"Calandra will finish her senior year on a high note," Heins said. "She has been to nationals and she knows what it takes to get there. We are looking for Calandra to be the leader on the team as far as being the No. 1 runner."
"The Bear Relays will give me a chance to see how the team competes," Heins said. I will see who the competitors are and who is going to push themselves a little harder. It will gauge who we are."
Following a trip to Denton, Texas, for the North Texas Invitational on Sept. 9, the Horned Frog men will travel to College Station, Texas, for the Texas A&M Invitational on Sept. 16.
"At Texas A&M, the meet is going to have a lot of teams from Texas, so it will really give us a chance to see how we rank in the state," Heins said. "The meet is always highly-competitive and we will have to be prepared for it."
Following the Texas A&M Invitational, both teams will travel to Stillwater, Okla., for the highly competitive Cowboy Jamboree on Sept. 30.
"The Cowboy Jamboree is one of the biggest meets in the country and the teams that go to the meet are going to be ready to run," Heins said. "There will be some national-caliber runners there and we will get a chance to see where we are on a national level. It is going to be a race that we will be geared up for."
The Cowboy Jamboree will also mark the final regular season meet in preparation for the Mountain West Conference Championships for the men's team.
The final regular season tune-up for the women will take place on Oct. 14 at the NCAA Pre-Nationals in Terre Haute, Ind. The Pre-Nationals will provide the Horned Frogs with an opportunity to run the same course that the NCAA Championships will be held.
"At Pre-Nationals, the women are going there to beat teams from other regions and help qualify for nationals," Heins said. "If we don't finish in the top two in our region, then we have to have some wins over other schools that qualify for nationals, and this meet will provide an ample opportunity for us to ensure ourselves of a trip to the NCAA Championships."
Following the Pre-Nationals, both the men and women will open the postseason on Oct. 28 at the Mountain West Conference Championships in Salt Lake City, Utah.
"The Mountain West Conference is one of the most competitive conferences in the country," Heins said. "I believe we can finish in the top half of the conference on both the men's and women's side."
Following the MWC Championships, both teams will head to the NCAA South Central Regional in Waco, Texas, with hopes of qualifying for the NCAA Championships, which will take place Nov. 20 in Terre Haute, Ind.
With a strong base of returning talent and the addition of a solid freshmen class, Heins and the Horned Frogs are primed for a strong season.