Track teams gearing up for promising indoor season
Dec. 18, 2012
ARLINGTON, Texas - The UT Arlington men's and women's track and field teams will kick off their indoor seasons in less than four weeks, and expectations and optimism are high for both squads in 2013.
The Mavericks men's team has many reasons for its enthusiastic outlook. Its cross country squad is coming off a Western Athletic Conference championship this fall, and the team placed 26th at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships last March.
Two returning first-team All-Americans, senior Romain Martin (heptathlon) and junior Clayton Vaughn (60m), again figure to pace the Mavericks this season. However, the team also has added a third All-America honoree to the mix in junior transfer Bozidar Antunovic (shot put).
At last year's NCAA Championships, Martin placed fifth in the heptathlon with 5,880 points, breaking the school record in the process. He also is a two-time conference champion in the event and enters this year as a contender for an individual national title.
Vaughn also earned a fifth-place finish at the 2012 NCAAs after posting a UTA-record time of 6.61 seconds in the 60m. In addition, he was the Southland Conference champion in the event (6.68). Vaughn was hobbled by injury in the outdoor season, but has trained well this fall.
Antunovic was a fourth-place finisher at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the shot put each of the last two years for the University of Arizona.
In addition, the Mavericks feature senior Jeff Rodriguez in the pole vault, sophomore Quentin Butler in the sprints and senior Lionel Mungwari in the jumps, all of whom have competed at the NCAA West Preliminaries during their careers. The Mavericks also have a stable of cross country all-conference performers in Virgilio Martinez, Craig Lautenslager, Emil Blomberg and Ryan Tilotta in the mid-distance and distance events.
"We are very eager to get started," head coach John Sauerhage said. "The primary goal for the men's team is to win a WAC title. That's the most important thing. After that, we hope to get our national-caliber athletes qualified for the NCAAs and there in one piece, so they can compete at their highest levels."
Reynolds shared the High Points Scorer honor at the 2012 Southland Conference Indoor Championships after taking home crowns in both the 60 meters (7.51) and the 200 meters (24.32) at the SLC meet.
Smith, meanwhile, won the SLC title in the 400 meters during the indoor season, but was hampered by injury during the outdoor slate. She is back healthy for her final collegiate campaign.
Other decorated returners include Ashly Wright, who advanced to the NCAA West Prelims in the outdoor 400m, Hannah Nilsson, an all-WAC cross country performer, and Samantha Little, who was an all-league thrower last outdoor season.
A number of freshmen are expected to be strong performers at the league level. Among them are Danielle Delage (pentathlon), Katelyn Hayward (mid-distance) and Gabriela Alfonzo (distance). In addition, transfers DeOna Stafford and Ashley Burris will give the team contenders in the hurdles.
"We have quality athletes through all of the event areas," Sauerhage said. "We have a strong cast of returning athletes who are healthy and in tremendous shape after the fall. In addition, we have a number of new people who are competing very well. I'm really optimistic about our women's team."
The Mavericks begin the season at Texas A&M's Texas 10-Team Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 12. Other key dates during the indoor season include the WAC Championships (Feb. 21-23 in Albuquerque, N.M.) and the NCAA Championships (March 7-10 in Fayetteville, Ark.).