Temple University’s track and field program is progressing toward a bright future and finishing up a productive year. The team is comprised of many young members and is not quite in the re-building status that several other Temple University athletic teams find themselves in. Mainly because the team is not fully developed in terms of the talent they have.
Led by Coach George Phillips, the team is a constant producer of competitive sprinting talent, allowing them to remain one of the top sprinting programs in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
“At the moment, I think we’re the top sprint team in the conference, both men and women,” Phillips said.
On the women’s team, the short sprints, jumps and the hurdles continue to be a great source of strength for the team. It aided the Lady Owls in nearly stealing the A-10 indoor championship title; they finished in second place. The only weakness comes from an issue that is out of the team’s hands.
“We don’t have a cross country team, so we don’t generally compete in anything over 1500 meters. So we’re very, very weak in the distances,” Phillips said.
Another issue for the team is the lack of presence on the men’s team.
“The men are not as strong as the women. They lack depth,” Phillips said. “The men have one-third the scholarships that the women do there are five scholarship runners for the men and 12 for the women.”
So far this outdoor season has produced both positive and negative results. The team was able to compete in two strong competitions at Hampton University where there were seven teams competing and the N.C. State University relays where 58 teams were in the field.
“It’s almost as big as the Penn Relays,” said Phillips of the N.C. State Relays. “Everybody in the south was there, and Marion Jones was there. They saw some real good athletes.”
There are two meets that the teams are looking forward to, Penn Relays and the A-10 Outdoor Championships. However there are a few setbacks in the way of doing very well at either meet.
On the women’s side, four out of the top upper-classmen are hurt. Edith Lewis, Chanel Dale and Naomi Beverly are just some of the injured. With a lot of injuries it’ll be tough to say what the team’s performance will be.
“We have a lot of young kids so it should be an adventure. Last year we had a good Penn Relays [experience],” Phillips said.
Looking forward to the A-10 championships, the women hope to place between second and fourth.
“If God shines on us we’ll get second,” Phillips said.
The projection for the men’s team is fifth place.
Being a strong team in the shorter events does come with its problems for the team as a whole. When asked if the A-10 presents the Owl’s with suitable competition, Phillips said, “Yes and no. Again, we’re basically a sprint team and most of the team’s around here are not.”
To run against similar teams, Temple must go out of conference. Next year, track fans will see a different story.
The women’s team will welcome new athletes from Maryland, New York and Virginia. They will add to the talent that the team already has in young athletes, much like newcomer Farren Benson. Benson is primarily a long jumper and an occasional 800-meter runner. However, she has been plagued by an injury recently.
“The experience so far has been good. I like the team, and there are a lot of freshmen,” Benson said. “I have really stayed the same this year so for next year I’ll try to get healthy so I can set some goals for my sophomore year.”
On the men’s side, senior Otis Cheek will be graduating, so the team will look for a replacement for him on the relays.
“The boys need to find a fourth leg on the four-by-four to replace Otis. On the girls side, we almost won the A-10’s indoors. Next year we’re gonna win,” Phillips said.
Men’s track and field will compete at Delaware Saturday.
Saudia R. Mitchell can be reached at Saudrae@hotmail.com