Jesse Everett — THE BATTALION
CHASING THE CHAMPIONSHIP
Coming into this season, Texas A&M track and field is confident and determined. After a successful 2017 run, the men’s team is looking to defend their NCAA Indoor and SEC Outdoor titles. They are also hungry to claim the outdoor national title they narrowly lost last year. In addition, the women’s team is ready to bounce back and show the country they belong on top.
Since the season ended, athletes such as Fred Kerley and Lindon Victor graduated and moved on to top tier track and field competition. At A&M, they provided not only world-class athletic performances, but invaluable leadership for the team. According to head coach Pat Henry they are leaving big holes to fill for the upcoming season.
“As a head coach, my job is to lose great athletes,” Henry said. “If we lose more great ones every year, we are on the right track. Losing guys like Fred and Lindon is a natural progression. Now we have to see who is going to stand up and fill the holes.”
Senior sprinter Mylik Kerley, Fred’s younger brother, is an athlete Henry believes could lead A&M to success in 2018. It will be the first time Mylik will be running for the Aggies without his brother alongside him.
“I’ve been competing and training alongside Fred for a long time,” Kerley said. “He’s my brother, but at the same time I don’t think people understand that I’ve been on teams without my brother before. It is the same mindset for me. Nothing changes, I still want to win.”
There is no real off-season for the track and field team. However, according to Henry and Kerley, track athletes never shut down, and the team begins training during the first week of school.
“The whole first semester for track and field is freshmen coming in to get better and improve their times from high school,” Kerley said. “For the athletes that have been here, we are trying to consistently grow. On the track, it’s like war every day with the guys that I run against.”
The season is split into halves — the indoor and outdoor seasons. The team has a full slate of meets for both the SEC and NCAA Championships
“From a philosophical standpoint, I think track and field is an outdoor sport,” Henry said. “That said, we have an indoor national championship season, and we are very intent on being the best we can be indoors. But your training is geared to be good in June, which is the national outdoor championships.”
While all athletes compete with different mindsets, many on the team echo their coach’s sentiments, such as junior middle-distance runner Jazmine Fray, who holds the indoor collegiate 800m record.
“I approach the indoor season as a jumping-off point,” Fray said. “Our coaches always say these are rehearsals for the big finale, which for us is NCAA outdoors.”
The track and field team has a long and storied history of winning, and it may be due to Henry and his coaching staff’s philosophy.
“I want each individual to be the best that they can be,” Henry said. “If every individual is concentrating on that, then I know that we are going to have a pretty good team because I think we have some pretty good athletes.”
Along with this mindset, the athletes have more tangible goals in mind over the next several months.
“The female team can win SECs,” Fray said. “Of course it is a team effort. It’s everyone coming together and being the best that we can be all at the same
time. Of course we are all striving for that.”
Kerley is also confident in the men’s team and is determined to finish on top whenever he and his teammates compete.
Kerley said he believes the current culture of the team wanting to win and working well together is not something that will go away.
“The culture on this team is different than any I’ve been on or experienced,” Kerley said.
Henry believes he has talented teams this year, but is waiting to see what the season holds.
“We are more talented on the female side this year than we were last,” Henry said. “On the men’s side, I think we can be as good as what we were last year. Whether or not we can win a title, that doesn’t have anything to do with us being as good as we were last year because there are some great teams out there.”
Track and field looks to build indoor accolades, focus on outdoor events
By Jack Holmes
Sophomore Tyler Guillory finished second in the 60 meter hurdles with a time of 7.96 seconds at the Texas A&M Quadrangular on Jan. 20.