Carolina's Coach Frye Talks Track and Field
March 29, 2007
USC will host the Weems Baskin Sprint Relays on Sat., March 31. The field events will begin at 10:30 am with the hammer and the running events will begin at Noon with the 3000m Steeplechase. More than 15 teams are expected to compete including USC, Virginia Tech, St. John's, Georgia Southern, College of Charleston and a number of others. USC head coach Curtis Frye talked about the meet and the outdoor season with USCSports.com on Thursday.
USC: For a casual track and field fan, what are a few of the events they should look for on Saturday?
CF: The women's hurdles races - both 100m and400m hurdles. Virginia Tech has three really good female hurdlers including an All-American. Then add to the mix Ronnetta Alexander Martin and Chiquita Martin from our team and it will be pretty good. Chiquita and our freshman Krystal Cantey should have a really good race in the 400m hurdles - with both running some of the top times in the country.
NCAA collegiate record holder Natasha Hastings will run the 400m as well and maybe look for the track record (50.63 set by Miki Barber in 2001). The women's 400m race should be good with Stephanie Smith, Faraign Giles and Brandy Cross picking up All-American honors. South Carolina State also has a really good quarter miler from Trinidad.
On the men's side, track fans should look for the men's 400m hurdles race with Gamecocks' Thomas Hilliard and Jussi Heikkila setting it up. Our freshman Quentin Moore and Jamil James in the 400m have both run under 48 indoors in the quarter and this is their first time outdoors running head to head.
The 4x400m relays should be good. The 4x100m relays aren't ready to run yet.
Tyler Trout with the throws and his regional qualifier in the hammer. Tyler will be tested by the Hokies. Virginia Tech won the ACC title indoors for the women and a lot of those points are throws, but they also have a lot of good sprints. Precious Akins is an All-American in the discus and at fourth last year at the NCAA Championship, that should be a good event for fans. Sallie Gurganus is also a standout in the pole vault and it will give us a shot at breaking our freshman outdoor record. Dan McKenzie has a regional qualifying mark in the pole vault and Virginia Tech brings some good vaulters to the meet.
Jim Mitchell in the shot put - we are looking for big things out of him. It's time. Joe Schroeder in the javelin. They are all regional qualifiers and so we look for them to do well at the home track meet.
Becky Chain should have a good 1500m as our top cross country runner. I expect her to be there at sub-4:40 in the 1500m. Casey Gale will run head-to-head with Becky and that should be a good race.
USC: We know it's early, what are you expecting from the men and the women outdoors?
CF: SEC top five and NCAA top 10 for the women. For the men, I'd like to see us finish in the top 20 at the NCAA meet. I am not going out and predicting us to win, but without Amberly Nesbitt and Shalonda Solomon who has been dinged up - that hurts us. Redshirting Jason Richardson on the men's team - we might not be a top 10 team. We hope to go to the NCAA meet and score 15-20 points and on the men's side. If you score 30 points that puts you in the top 10 on the women's side.
USC: The women have been in the top 10 the last 11 years straight - pretty impressive, with only Arkansas' men and Texas' women matching that streak. But between now and then you have a lot of meets.
CF: Everything we do is to prepare for nationals.
USC: Are there other meets you are looking towards besides the SEC meet in May between now and then?
CF: No, basically each week we need to progress more. We want to keep adding regional qualifiers each meet. We want to be healthy and ready to go by Penn Relays because that is the last meet before the SEC Championships. That meet is the last meet to shine before we start with all the scored meets - SECs, Regionals, NCAAs. It's all scored after the Penn Relays.
USC: The SEC is traditionally very strong, do you expect that outdoors as well?
CF: On the women's side Tennessee is strong; Georgia, LSU, Arkansas, USC - but nationally Arizona State is just phenomenal. Stanford, Arizona State and Michigan indoors were very strong and they will be strong outdoors. Arizona State has already set the bar way out there. On the men's side Wisconsin and Florida State are the top two teams. Tennessee, Arkansas, LSU and Florida, but the Gators are young. There is no chaser for the national crown right now, but it's still very early.