ARLINGTON, Texas – The UTA men's and women's track and field programs have their sights set high for the 2017 indoor season, which kicks off Saturday at the Texas A&M Team Invitational.
UTA coach John Sauerhage, who has guided the Mavericks for nearly three decades, is as excited as ever to get this season underway.
"We've been training hard for a long time, and we are very eager to get going," Sauerhage said. "We feel as though both of our teams are deep and well rounded. Anytime you can compete in all of the event areas, you really feel like you can have a strong season."
UTA enters the indoor campaign on the heels of winning the men's Sun Belt Conference cross country title. With its stable of stars, the distance crew figures to help carry the men’s team.
Among the leaders will be Michael Guerrero, who was third in both the 3000m and 5000m at the SBC meet a year ago. This fall, he advanced to the NCAA Cross Country Championships.
Leading UTA's standouts in the field is senior triple jumper Tobi Fawehinmi, who took third in the event last indoor season. In addition, Christian Schiemann, who took bronze at the league meet in the heptathlon, returns after missing the outdoor season due to injury.
Among the men who could have breakout seasons is middle-distance runner Joel Duren, who claimed third in the mile at the SBC Championships last year.
The women's team's strength figures to come from its bevy of strong 400- and 800-meter runners. Tamerah Gorham, a former Sun Belt champion in the 800m, returns for her final season. Meanwhile, Anamarija Petters was the league runner up in the 800 meters last year, while Taylor Davis was third in the 400m.
In the field, sophomore high jumper Alexus Henry looks to build on her trip to the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Championships. In addition, triple jumper Chineme Obikudu returns to action after sitting out last spring due to injury.
Saturday is the first of four regular-season contests for the Mavericks prior to the Sun Belt Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships Feb. 20-21 in Birmingham, Ala.
"The entire track season is a process, so this first meet gives you a baseline to show you where you are and what you need to work on down the road," Sauerhage said. "Anytime you get the opportunity to compete against the types of programs we will see this Saturday, you will get better."
As always, getting the squads to peak for the league meet is the ultimate goal. In 2016, the men finished second at the SBC Championships for the second straight year, while the women were fifth.
Saturday's scored meet, which starts at noon, will feature full teams from all programs, including Abilene Christian, Baylor, Stephen F. Austin, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas State, UTA and UTSA. The meet will air live on SEC Network+ beginning at 1:55 p.m. In addition, live scoring will be available throughout the day at 12thman.com.
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