2003 Track & Field season was one to Remember
July 30, 2003
2003 Track & Field Season was one to Remember
By Ryan Rogers
Memphis Media Relations
The University of Memphis Track & Field Program produced a memorable year in 2003. Fifteen athletes qualified for NCAA Regionals, and three advanced to the NCAA Championships. Nine school records were broken. The Men's team had their highest conference finish since 2000 and the Women's team had there highest placing since 1994. For the first time since 1973 an athlete from Memphis was named Outdoor Track & Field Athlete of the Year, and off the track several athletes were honored for their ability in the classroom.
"It was a very successful year," said Men's Track Coach Coach Glenn Hays. "We're just getting back on 'track' here in Memphis. The recruiting has picked up and the kids are really working hard to get better. I knew before the season that this team had the potential to qualify several athletes for post-season competition."
Coach Hays injected several new faces to his team in 2003 that produced instant success. Distance runners Mate Nemeth, Adam Didyk, Ferenc Bekesi and Istvan Kerekjarto, all newcomers to the squad, provided Memphis with arguably the conference's best distance running corps. Nemeth led the way with championships in the 3000m Steeplechase, 5000m run and a runner-up stead in the 3000m. He set new school records in the 5000m run and the 3000m Steeplechase.
"It's a start to something great," said Nemeth. "We all came here together because we knew each of the other guys were coming. Distance training is all about having good teammates to train with. When you have a good group like we had this year at Memphis, you can improve your times tremendously."
On the Women's side, Coach Brenda Calhoun-Cash's young team improved with every successive meet and accomplished a feat no team in her tenure had done before. For the first time since 1985, The U of M qualified a female athlete for the NCAA Championships. Senior sprinter Keenan Gibson earned qualifying marks in the 100m dash and 200m dash.
"I knew the qualifying standards were within my reach this year," said Gibson. "I was excited. I knew their was potential for my hard work to pay off. It was very gratifying to qualify for nationals my senior year. That was a goal I always wanted to attain. The program is still in the rebuilding stages but I know that at conference we surprised many schools. I can see this program getting much better in years to come and hopefully with more support it can become a top place to train as a track athlete. I know I won't be the last female at Memphis to qualify for NCAA's."
Gibson's teammate Lisa-Marie Hyman became the first athlete to win conference championships in back-to-back years under Coach Cash. Hyman won the Outdoor Triple Jump Championship in 2002 and 2003 and added the Indoor Triple Jump championship in 2003 to brandish her dominance in the event.
"It means a lot to us to have this success," said Hyman. "We have some great athletes in the program and we are finally showing everyone in the conference what we are made of. The only way to put this program on the map is to do big things. We did big things this past spring and it's great that so many of us are having success."
C-USA Male Outdoor Track & Field Athlete of the Year, Junior Gaute Myklebust transferred from Southern Illinois-Carbondale to Memphis prior to the 2003 spring semester. To say he made an impact on the team is an understatement. He set new school records in the Shot Put and the Discus Throw. His teammate Adam Martin excelled as well, winning the Indoor Shot Put Championship and qualifying for NCAA Regionals in the Shot Put and Hammer Throw.
"This year has been truly special," said Martin. "The success of the track program this year has been a long time coming. Our recruiting class this year was phenomenal picking up Gaute (Myklebust) and the distance runners has made a world of difference. It helped us make the step to the next level of competition. I attribute a lot of my success to God first, and having a teammate like Gaute (Myklebust) around. He has helped me push my training to a higher level."
Off the track Memphis athletes Lisa-Marie Hyman, Keenan Gibson, Wendy Ragle, and Andre Lucas were all Academic All-American nominees. Each student-athlete earned at least a 3.5 GPA over the 2003 school year.
The 2004 version of Memphis Track & Field certainly looks promising. With an abundance of quality athletes returning including 12 athletes that qualified for NCAA Regionals and two who qualified for NCAA Championships. Combined with another solid recruiting effort which should boost the field events for the Men and the distance corps for the Women, Memphis Track & Field could be poised to make another step toward the top of C-USA in 2004.