Sports

Runners claim not much will change in new conference

Track & field’s goals remain the same despite moving to The American next fall.

The American: Operating Expenses for 2011-2012 Reporting Year

When discussing the overall talent level of the recently structured American Athletic Conference, Eric Mobley had rarely ever appeared so adamant.

While Temple is departing the Atlantic 10 Conference after a 31-year tenure for a spot in The American, the school’s fifth-year track & field coach stressed the Owls aren’t heading for greener pastures.

“You can’t say this conference is better or the teams are better than the A-10,” Mobley said. “Every conference has their strengths and weaknesses. The conference will be a lot different and a lot more widespread, but it’s not better.”

Although Temple is joining a newly established conference featuring a wide variety of athletic talent across the board, the move doesn’t appear to pose the same effect to the Owls’ cross country and track programs in comparison to some of their other athletic teams.

Sports such as soccer, baseball and lacrosse play through a “conference schedule” as part of a regular season schedule. Track faces its conference opponents in a conference setting all in one weekend in a conference championship meet.

Yet, Mobley believes the change will be good for his program.

“I definitely think it will be a change for the better,” Mobley said. “There will be different opportunities, different places to travel for conference championships and stuff like that. It’s going to be good for us, but we have to adapt and roll with the changes so we can stay competitive within the conference.”

In light of several changes in staff and a recent plunge in student-athlete numbers, the conference move will provide a new and different experience to a team in need of a mix-up.

“I think it’ll be cool,” sophomore distance runner Matt Kacyon said. “It’s a new experience coming out of the A-10 for all sports, not just track and cross country, to see the competition. We’ll have to see how it is next year.”

“Hopefully we’ll get to go to new meets and competitions,” junior distance runner Will Kellar said. “Change is always exciting, but next year was out on the back burner while we try to focus on finishing up this year.”

Temple enters The American having regularly run against a few of its tenants, including the Connecticut in the annual Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America Championship meet, as well as several members in the Texas Relays in March.

“Within our sport, you run into these teams in conferences like this all the time,” Mobley said. “With our schedule, we’ll try to go different places to give our athletes some great opportunities to run fast, throw far and jump far. The move won’t do much to change our regular season schedule. The biggest change will be in the conference meet.”

A graduate and former coach of fellow A-10 member La Salle, Mobley said changing conferences is a part of the business.

“In collegiate athletics, there’s always going to be a change of scenery and landscape, and you always go into it the same way,” Mobley said. “We want to win the conference in our new conference meet next year, too. The A-10 has been great and I helped host the first conference meet at La Salle in 1996. It’s something I’ve been a part of for a long time, but you have to understand that things change and you have to adapt.”

“We knew either way that whatever conference we were going to we would have to make a name for ourselves,” junior jumper Gabe Pickett said. “The slate is wiped clean.”

The team will compete in its final A-10 Championship meet May 4-5.

“I’m just excited to get to the new conference and see what it holds for us,” Mobley said. “The A-10 was fantastic. Some of the teams in this new conference have different emphasis on their programs than some of the Atlantic 10 teams…It’s always exciting to go onto new things and test yourself. I’m looking forward to it.”

Andrew Parent and Nick Tricome can be reached at sports@temple-news.com.

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