2004 Men's Outdoor Track & Field Preview
March 22, 2004
The Tigers enter the 2004 outdoor season with high expectations. Memphis returns both NCAA Championship competitors including double-medlaist Mate Nemeth and 2003 C-USA Male Outdoor Athlete of the Year Gaute Myklebust. The Tigers are very strong in the throwing events and have capable athletes in the sprints, distance and jumping events as well. The Tigers open up their season this Saturday at the Mississippi State Invite.
Traditionally Memphis has produced elite sprinters. The Tigers lost last year's top sprinter Gary Nemeth to the 2004 Olympic Games. Nemeth, a native of Hungary, has temporarily left the university to train for the Olympics as part of the Hungarian 4x100m Relay team. Nemeth's father is the coach of that team in Hungary. Still the Tigers have talent in this area. Senior Ivan Williams has had a tremendous offseason of training and appears poised to become a top sprinter in the conference and bid for an NCAA Regional Qualifying spot in the 200m dash. As a true freshman, Willie Green proved why he was a prized recruit from the Peach State when he placed third in the 60m dash at the C-USA Indoor Championships. A hamstring injury prevented him from competing in the outdoor season, but a healthy Green has all the tools to be an impact sprinter for the Tigers in 2004. Adding depth to the men's sprint corps is senior Michael Woods. Woods is a capable sprinter that has improved with every year of training. He could be a pleasant surprise for the Tigers this year. In the hurdle events, Preston Taylor returns for the Tigers. Taylor ranked in top 10 of C-USA as a sophomore in the 100m hurdles. Taylor, standing at 6'4", possesses the tools of a good hurdler. Newcomer Daniel Kiss is expected to make a big impact for the Tigers. A former Hungarian national Champion in the 110m hurdles, Kiss competed in the European Championships and his best time in the 60m hurdles compares very favorably to the best times posted in C-USA last year. Freshman Larry Harris joins the team this year. A local high school standout at Cordova HS Memphis, Harris may be the future for the Tigers in that event. Austin Hunter, a former college soccer player has developed into a solid 400m man for the Tigers. Now entering his sophomore year, Hunter is experienced and should climb the rankings in C-USA in 2004.
The strength of the Tigers team in 2003 was their distance corps. That group may be even stronger in 2004. Led by C-USA Double-Medalist Mate Nemeth (3000m steeplechase, 5000m Champion), the Tigers will be a force in the distance events. Nemeth returns for his senior campaign and sets his sights not on only repeating as a conference champion, but perhaps advancing to the finals of the NCAA Championships in the steeplechase which he just missed in 2003. Sophomore Istvan Kerekjarto qualified for the NCAA Regionals in the 800m and 1500m run in 2003 as a freshman. The coaching staff loves his potential and believes Kerekjarto can accomplish a lot before his career is over at Memphis. Newcomers Michael Mentz, Szabi Karadi, Abraham Shaposhnik and Szilard Toth all have strong credentials as distance runners. Mentz won his first race as a Tiger winning the 800m with an impressive time and may be the strongest of the newcomers. Collectively, the Tigers can potentially accumulate a lot of points in the distance events at the conference championship meets.
NCAA rules allow a team to enter four competitors in each event. The Tigers look to take advantage of that rule in the throwing events this spring. Coach Kevin Robinson has assembled a very talented group of throwers that may be as a good as any group in the country. Returning Double-Medalist and NCAA Championship Qualifier and 2003 C-USA Male Outdoor Athlete of the Year Senior Gaute Myklebust looks to add to his trophy case in 2004. Competing overseas this past summer in amateur competition, the native Norwegian produced marks in the shot put and discus that rival the top marks posted last year at the NCAA Championships. The C-USA 2003 Indoor Shot Put Champion and NCAA Regional Qualifier Adam Martin is back for his senior season. Martin competes in all four events (shot put, discus, weight throw and hammer) with the hammer throw being his strongest, as he is a top five thrower in C-USA. Senior transfer Stein Syverson is a former Norwegian Junior Champion in the discus and shot put. In his first meet as a Tiger, he matched Myklebust's performance in both events and challenges his teammate in those events. Freshmen Darius Frye and Norbert Guylas will jockey for the final spot as a thrower. Although young, both have shown ability as throwers.
After an absence of competitors in the jumping events in 2003, the Memphis brought in two athletes to compete in these events in 2004. Junior College Transfer Janon Busby was a top-five finisher in the high jump and National Champion in the triple jump at the NJCAA Championships in 2003 while competing at Wallace State in Alabama. Busby gives the Tigers an instant boost in those two events. Freshman Cody Rushing was the Tennessee High School State Runner-up in the pole vault in 2003. He is the first pole vaulter to compete for Memphis since 1999 C-USA Champion Christos Adamides.