Coach Elvis Forde said the key to the Owls’ success this season relies on 12 athletes.
Of the 29 Owls on the 2015-16 roster, 12 are freshmen. The second-year coach is counting on the team’s newcomers to consistently score points and add depth to the track & field team, which is still in a rebuilding phase.
“The freshmen will really help our cause this year,” Forde said. “The biggest thing for them is they got to be fearless. I don’t want there to be any intimidation on the team because confidence is key.”
Nine of the 19 Owls who competed at the Great Dane Classic in Staten Island, New York on Jan. 16 were freshmen, and the first-year athletes combined for five of Temple’s 22 points at the meet.
On Jan. 22, nine freshmen competed in the Gotham Cup in Staten Island, New York and the first distance medley relay of the season was run by four freshmen at the event.
“I feel like the freshman class now, we’re bringing something good to the team, and it will help us a lot,” freshman Crystal Jones said.
Jones has competed in each of the Owls’ meets this season, competing in several events including the high jump and the 60-meter hurdles.
Jones also holds the team record in the high jump for this season, jumping 1.7 meters at the Lehigh Fast Times meet on Dec. 5, 2015.
“She is an outstanding jumper who will definitely make her mark in the conference,” Forde said. “She has all the tools to do very well.”
Freshman mid-distance runner Maya Halprin-Adams, who specializes mainly in the 1,000- and 800-meter, owns a team best in the 1,000 with a time of three minutes, three seconds and 50 milliseconds. She is focusing on that race to prepare for racing the 800 later in the season.
First-year distance runners Alexis O’Shea and Kate Leisher own team best times in the 800 and the mile with times of 2:18.50 and 5:17.86, respectively. Sprinter and hurdler Sylvia Wilson is the other freshman to hold a team record in her event, finishing the 60 hurdles in 8.59.
Last season, graduate senior Blanca Fernandez, a United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-American, competed on the national level in the NCAA Division I Championships for both the indoor and outdoor seasons.
“In the future, we hope that we don’t have to rely on just one person to give us a name,” coach Elvis Forde said. “And I want to believe that the Sylvia Wilson’s and that Crystal Jones and that group will help us build upon that and not count on Blanca all alone.”
Halprin-Adams and Jones both said the upperclassmen have been welcoming and helpful in the transition to college athletics, which includes adjusting to workout schedules and new training techniques.
Forde sees a strong team dynamic and connection among the years as an important aspect to getting results in meets.
“We all came in together, nervous, but we are all making our mark as the season goes on,” Halprin-Adams said.
Maura Razanauskas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.