Mean Green To Open Indoor Season At Texas A&M Invitational DENTON, Texas (1/15/10) ? With hopes of ending a four-year indoor conference title drought, the North Texas track and field team begins a new journey by kicking off the 2010 indoor season this Saturday at the Texas A&M Invitational.
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DENTON, Texas (1/15/10) – With hopes of ending a four-year indoor conference title drought, the North Texas track and field team begins a new journey by kicking off the 2010 indoor season this Saturday at the Texas A&M Invitational.
The last time a North Texas squad won gold at the indoor Sun Belt Conference Championship came in 2005 when the women’s team scored 111 points en route to the school’s lone conference title.
These numbers are all too familiar for 14th year track and field head coach Rick Watkins and the rest of the Mean Green coaching staff. Earlier in the week they held an annual team meeting with the returnees and newcomers and the message was clear; the time is now for Mean Green track and field.
“Winning a conference title has to be a goal for this team,” Watkins said. “We’ve got to be ready from the get go. We have a lot of talent on this team and we have a chance to do some special things during the indoor season. This is a team that should be strong in every event and that’s what gives us a chance.”
North Texas will be tested out of the gate early when they travel to College Station, Texas for this weekend’s meet. The 20-team field will showcase seven ranked teams, including No. 1 Texas A&M on the women’s side along with No. 15 Texas, No. 16 Baylor and No. 21 Oklahoma. The men meanwhile will be competing against No. 6 Oklahoma, No. 8 Texas A&M and No. 11 Baylor.
Other teams in the competition include Houston Baptist, Louisiana Tech, Northwestern Louisiana, Prairie View A&M, Sam Houston St., Stephen F. Austin, SMU, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Texas Southern, Texas State, UT-Arlington and TCU.
The Mean Green returns nine indoor all-conference members, including sophomore sprinter Keyth Talley, who put together one of the greatest freshman campaigns in school history last year.
The reigning Indoor and Outdoor Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year became the first athlete in school history to medal at the Pan Am Junior Championships by winning gold in the 4X100-relay and second in the 200-meter dash at Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. He also became the first athlete in North Texas history to win gold at the National Junior Championship, winning the 200-meter dash (20.86).
With lofty expectations coming into 2010, Talley knows there are still ways to improve and Manor High School graduate doesn’t plan on letting anyone down, including his teammates.
“Individually I’ve just got to keep getting better and work on the little stuff,” he said. “Coach Dabbs and I have worked a lot on flexibility and range of motion. I just want to continue to get better every time I step on the track. I feel like I can set an example for the rest of the team and if I do my part and everyone else will follow.”
In only his second season, Talley has grown as a vocal leader and it is evident in the way he spoke about the upcoming indoor season. “Personally I’m kind of tired of the stereotype that people have put on this team of only being an outdoor team,” he said. “We’ve got to have the mentality that we’re sick of losing.”
North Texas welcomes in 20 newcomers, including junior Eron Phillips (sprints) and freshman Steven White (hurdles) on the men’s side. Phillips, a transfer from Hutchinson Community College, was seventh in the nation in the long jump and 12th in the high jump his sophomore season. White was a 5A state champion out of Ellison High School in the 300-hurdles and the AAU Jr. Olympic Champion in the 400-hurdles.
The women will be looking to replace one of the top sprinters in school history after the graduation of Lauren Wiggins. Coach Watkins is hoping that transfers Missy Barnes (Sprints, Oklahoma University) and Brittany Blaylock (Sprints, TCU) can provide some of the experience that was lost.
Action from the Texas A&M Invitational will get underway at 1 p.m. on Saturday, beginning with the men’s shot put and women’s 60-meter hurdles. Live results will be available at http://www.flashresults.com.