March 20, 2009
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The University of Memphis men's and women's track and field teams open up the 2009 outdoor season this weekend when they compete at the all-day Rhodes Open hosted by Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn. on Saturday, March 21.
"We're just really excited to get to the outdoor season," said head coach Kevin Robinson. "We've been locked up indoors all winter and now we get to compete outside which works better for us because we have the outdoor facility to train on. Our athletes are used to that and I'm very excited to see how they will do in the coming weeks."
The men's squad brings a team to outdoor competition that won the C-USA Outdoor Championship just two years ago and placed fourth in 2008. On the women's side, the 2008 squad placed sixth which was their best finish since 2003.
"We're really looking to get back to that level," said Robinson. "If we keep everyone healthy and perform like we are capable of, then there is no reason why we can't accomplish that goal."
Returning C-USA Champions include Aaron Whetstone who won the triple jump with a C-USA meet record and school record mark of 16.60m (54-05.50), and Steffen Nerdal who took home titles in the discus with a mark of 53.94m (177-00) and the hammer throw with a mark of 66.36m (217-08).
"So many of our kids from last year did phenomenal jobs getting themselves in positions to do well at the end of the year," said Robinson. "Our hope is to send them out this year much improved and hopefully some of our other athletes can give them some company at the NCAA Regionals and hopefully the NCAA National Championships."
Returning competitors that competed in the NCAA MidEast Regional meet for the men include Seth Major in the shot put and discus, Christian McDonald school record holder in the javelin, Nerdal in the discus and hammer throw, Knut Syversen in the shot put and Whetstone in the triple jump. For the women, Sivan Aballi who competed in the shot put and discus return for the Lady Tigers along with Charlotte Abrahamsen who competed in the shot put.
Nerdal is the lone returning outdoor All-America competitor for the Tigers. His school record toss of 68.21m (223-09) earned him sixth place at the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Championships and All-America honors.
"We have some great athletes returning in some key positions on both sides," said Robinson. "This weekend is an evaluation meet for our athletes to see where we are and to find what direction that we need to go in."