Jan. 10, 2017
COLUMBIA, S.C. — After around a month off, the South Carolina track and field team returns to action on Saturday, Jan. 14, by participating at the Clemson Invitational in Clemson.
South Carolina head coach Curtis Frye is excited to see his team in action as the Gamecocks prepare for a busy, and important, 2017 spring season. The team will have several opportunities to prove that they belong among the elite teams in the nation.
"We have 11 All-Americans coming back, so that gives us a pretty mature group," Frye said. "Our whole theme is around the NCAA indoor and outdoor nationals. We want to do a good job in conference, but our biggest thing is qualify and score in the NCAA championships, and that's what our kids want to do."
Those goals all start with the Clemson Invitational, which will feature several top teams from around the country.
"It's going to be a great one," Frye said of the Clemson Invitational. "(Clemson's track) has got to be the fastest track in the world. It's a big, wide track. It's got the same surface we have on our outdoor track. I think it will be a fast opener."
The outdoor track Frye mentioned is a state-of-the-art, brand new facility the Gamecocks will use this spring. While it will still be a couple of months before South Carolina will compete at its new facility, Frye and the athletes have been looking forward to it for a long time.
Starting with the Clemson Invitational, the Gamecocks will compete for seven straight weekends with the final meet during that stretch being the SEC Indoor Championships. After a weeklong break, South Carolina will then hopefully compete at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Unlike in other sports, polls and rankings don't decide who will compete in the postseason. In track and field, it's simply your race times and measurements that are the determining factor.
"Our kids know that our meets are our practices early on," Frye said. "It's just an extension. You can't schedule yourself into the National Championship, so they know that each week it's an opportunity to get some of the fastest times in the country."
The Gamecocks returned to practice on Jan. 5 after the winter break, and Frye was looking forward to seeing how his athletes handled themselves over the long break. He was pleased with how the Gamecocks ended fall practice.
"They left ahead of schedule," Frye said of his athletes. "You have to perform each week to be able to continue to be in play."
One thing Frye is already aware of and impressed with is the fact that the athletes themselves have high expectations coming into this season. As Frye mentioned, he wants his team to perform well at nationals, and his athletes have made that their goal as well.
"That's always my goal, but when they say that's their primary goal is, 'How high can we finish?' (it's great)," Frye said.
UP NEXT FOR THE GAMECOCKS
South Carolina opens the 2017 season on Saturday, when they compete at the Clemson Invitational. The meet begins with field events at 11 a.m. inside of the Clemson University Indoor Complex.
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