Carolina's Coach Frye talks about Penn Relays
April 23, 2007
The Gamecock track and field teams are preparing for the 113th running of the Penn Relays this weekend in Philadelphia. The women have already qualified 16 individuals for the NCAA Regional Championships (May 25-26, Gainesville) in six events plus two relays. On the men's side, the Gamecocks have qualified nine individuals in seven events for the NCAA Regionals plus the 4x400m relay. Last year the women won the Regional title and the men finished a program-high third.
Penn Relays will be shown live on ESPN2 at 1 pm on Sat., April 28 with portions of the meet and USA vs. The World relays shown as well.
In addition to running at Penn Relays, USC's track teams, coaches and staff will also attend a reception at Dave and Busters in Philadelphia Saturday evening hosted by Kevin Lahn and the USC Alumni Club of the Delaware Valley. For more information please contact Kevin at email@example.com.
South Carolina head track and field coach Curtis Frye talked about why being a Gamecock running at Penn Relays is so special when he sat down with uscsports.com today.
USC: What makes Penn Relays so special?
Frye: Penn Relays is the largest audience in track and field. It's run in one of the heaviest populated areas of the USA and the fans at Penn Relays are excited about track and field like maybe nowhere else in the world. More athletes have participated in Penn relays than all other track and field meets combined. It's huge! If you didn't run at Penn, you just got left out. Every kid wants to run at Penn Relays. Our athletes really enjoy running there. If we were to only have one meet a year and let our athletes pick it, the majority of them would pick Penn Relays.
USC: If you go to the meet healthy, what are some events USC will excel in this weekend?
Frye: On the women's side, the shuttle hurdle relay, the 4x400m relay and the 4x200m relay. We will also be competitive in the 4x100m relay for the women. Thomas Hilliard should excel at both hurdle races (110m hurdles and 400m hurdles) and we will run a strong 4x400m relay on the men's side. The men will also compete in the 4x100m relay, the sprint medley and the 4x800m relay and hope for the best. Thomas, Jussi and Krystal will run the intermediate hurdles and I look for Thomas and Chiquita to run well in the 110m and 100m hurdle races.
Shalonda Solomon and Natasha Hastings should both run well with whoever runs on the 4x100m relay, the 4x200 relay and the 4x400m relay. Shalonda looked good in opening outdoors in the 100m this past weekend.
USC: So there is some method to the madness of running a relay meet?
Frye: Everybody can't win the relays so you work to find out how good your split was and then the person can get confidence for their open race. Then two weeks later you know whom you can count on at the conference championships. The team knows how they ran in the relay and they know how they ran and it helps.
USC: What are some of your favorite Penn Relays moments?
Frye: Right now I just want to get there and hopefully help the kids to have their best experience, live through the ups and the downs and of course to run in front of the amazing crowds. It's also wonderful to see a lot of the past Carolina athletes run with USA vs. the World part of Penn Relays. It lets our kids and people around the country know that USC continues to be an integral part of the USA- Olympic movement. They have a chance to see Aleen Bailey, Miki and Lisa Barber, Terrence Trammell, Demetria Washington, so many, they came to Carolina because of those types of people and they will continue to do well. It gives me a great thrill when they announce world champion or Olympian or ranked No. 1 or 2 in the world and they add a Carolina graduate to it. It's a real thrill. We wish them well.
USC: Before the outdoor season began, many picked South Carolina and Arizona State to compete for the NCAA title, but you have had a number of injuries this year. Do you think about what could have been?
Frye: I haven't dwelled on that. We have a lot of kids that have goals and we are trying to help them meet their goals. If everyone reaches their goals, we will have a great year and that excludes injuries. If you are hurt, you can't reach your goals, but we work hard to help those who are competing reach their goals and when they reach their goals it helps the team.
USC: When do you sit down and write up individual goals with each athlete?
Frye: We sit down early in the year and talk to each athlete about what they want to accomplish, but the goals do change during the year. The relays - meets like Penn Relays - they help you set up your individual work. You use relays to set up an individual's race later in the year. They learn how to distribute their run, use the relay as speed work (4x1) or use the relay as endurance work (4x4) and so you work towards an individual goal to get there. The same way for a hurdler, you start with a flying start in the shuttle hurdle relay and then you get some momentum.
USC: Do you have expectations for SEC Championships or are you going to wait until the week of the SEC meet to set those (May 11-13 at Alabama)?
Frye: Right now we have expectations. The SEC meet is our first championship outdoors. We want to have as many people as we can finish All-SEC and finish in the top five as a women's team and move up from indoors on the men's side. We want to qualify as many as possible for the NCAA Regionals. Track and field has turned into a regional and national meet. The conference meet is the first round. Second round is regionals and if you don't get through regionals, you go home. As bad as I hate the process of regionals, it's kind of made the conference meet not as important. If you run all out at the conference meet and get hurt, your season is over. And now regionals are really more important than the conference meet and almost more important than the NCAA meet. I don't like regionals. It causes you to pick how hard you can run two track meets - the conference meet and nationals. Now the regionals are more important than those two meets. But it's here to stay and you have to accept it. We did really well last year - winning the women's side and finishing third on the men's side.
USC: When talking to recruits about South Carolina, what are some of your biggest selling points?
Frye: On the women's side, we are one of the top five programs in the country. Year in year out, we are top five. The men's program is a top 25 program. When you talk about track and field - everybody has a track and field program. You aren't competing against 40 schools in the country - you are competing against every Division I and Division I-A program. Everyone runs track. So to say you are top five in one program and top 25 on the other side really is a big deal.