Tigers Shift Focus to Outdoors at Rhodes Open
March 19, 2010
Memphis, Tenn. – The University of Memphis track and field teams will officially shift its focus to the outdoor season on Saturday as they travel across town to the Rhodes Open hosted by Rhodes College.
After a seventh-place finish at the 2009 outdoor championship, the men’s squad will look to regain the championship form of 2007. The women’s squad finished sixth last season at the outdoor championships and will be looking for a top-three finish for the first time since 1996.
“Basically what we are trying to do at this point is regroup after the indoor season,” head coach Kevin Robinson said. “We are trying to up the volume in terms of training load. We have a few weeks here where we can get back to basic conditioning which will allow us to be prepared for a successful run come April and May. The first couple of meets outdoors we are basically training through them. We have to back off a little bit and prepare our athletes for meet championship shape come May. That is our focus at the moment.”
The men’s squad will return some key pieces of the puzzle with throwers Steffen Nerdal (Hammer, Discus), Knut Syversen (Hammer, Shot, Discus) and Seth Major (Hammer, Shot, Discus) returning after being redshirted a season ago.
“Last year we redshirted Steffen, Knut and Seth,” Robinson said. “All three of them were regional qualifiers in at least one event. Steffen, an all-American, qualified in two events. Knut qualified in shot and Seth qualified in the shot and discus. All three of those guys are very competitive in multiple events. Having redshirted those three last year, it really took a toll on our team performance last season, but the goal was to come back to this outdoor season and challenge for the championship.
The Lady Tigers had a school record six athletes compete at the NCAA Regional last season. Of the five, Karmyn Clarke, Tayanna Simpson and Marina Vojinovic will be the lone returners for Memphis. With the lack of experience Coach Robinson expects big things from the underclassmen that represent 60 percent of the women’s team.
“It is really tough right now with the women’s squad because we don’t have a lot of senior leadership,” Robinson said. “We don’t have that really strong high level competitor that has been here for four or five years like we have on the men’s side. It’s a different dynamic on the women’s side since we are still developing. We are still building on the women’s side and we have to continue to recruit and be able to retain high quality young ladies. That is our biggest challenge at the moment.”