Jan. 24, 2012
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By Miquel Jacobs
COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina's track and field team named five men to serve as captains of the men's team, a group of juniors and seniors that have proven themselves both on and off the track.
Representing the men's team in 2012 will be Louis Day, Chris Maxwell, Robert Razick, Marvin Reitze and Matt Shuler, a blend of athletes that represents the throwers, jumpers, middle distance and sprints. The five-some was voted upon by their peers to lead them after what a few of the men called a disappointing season last year.
"To me it feels good," Maxwell said of being selected as a captain. "I'm proud that I have a lot of respect and loyalty from my teammates to trust me as their captain. I'm proud and happy that they respect me enough to do that for the team."
The honor doesn't come without responsibility, as Razick noted. Shuler, an All-American in the pole vault, was one of two men to earn an NCAA Indoor bid before the team rebounded outdoors to take a larger contingent. With a new group leading the Gamecocks in action, the men hope to change not only the number of qualifiers but also the number of SEC and national finalists.
"We have a talented group of guys this year," Razick said. "For them to vote us as captains puts more pressure on us to do good things on the track this year. Hopefully we can learn from some of the mistakes we've made in the past as well as some of the good things that we've done to have a good year. Looking at some of the young guys and some of the things they've done (in the first two meets), I think they'll only get better and better. They're going to be ready when the big meets come around, and hopefully we can finish high in the standings in the SEC."
In addition to the strong athletic background presented by their leaders, the captains also supply the younger athletes with character traits to help aide them in their development as student-athletes. Take for instance Day, a redshirt junior who last season made national headlines for his act of sportsmanship at the SEC Indoor Championships that led to him being named the SEC and NCAA National Student-Athlete Sportsmanship Award winner.
"For me, it means a lot that my teammates voted me as a captain," Day said. "It does show that they respect you a lot. They look up to you and expect you to perform your very best. We have a really young team, so we'll try to do our best to lead them, get a lot more to qualify for nationals and hopefully score well at the SEC meet."
Shuler, a West Columbia native in his fifth year, was voted as a captain for the second season in a row and will help lead the team from the sidelines during the indoor season before returning outdoors for his final bout of eligibility. Despite a young team, he and the other believe the sky is the limit for the Gamecocks, and nothing short of giving their best in competition is expected. Most importantly, the captains have faith in their teammates and, as evidenced by the words of Maxwell, will do all that they can to inspire the team in 2012.
"I have a vision of us winning the national championship this year if we all work hard. I believe we can do it even though we have such a young team because the team is completely different from my first two years here. I believe we can do that well if we believe in each other."
The Gamecocks host their first meet of the season Wednesday afternoon at the USC Indoor Facility.
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