Two of USF’s Olympic sports turned in big performances over the weekend, as the men’s and women’s track and field teams posted best-ever finishes at the Big East Indoor Championships and sophomore golfer Trey Valentine won the individual title at the Wexford Plantation Invitational in Hilton Head, S.C.
Track and field got things rolling on Sunday with a third place finish for the men, and a fourth place finish for the women. The men finished with 89 points, a decent ways behind last year’s champion, Notre Dame (105.5 points) and this year’s winner, UConn (143). The women had 84.5 points to finish behind Villanova (98.5), UConn (109) and Notre Dame (141).
There were a handful of strong individual performances for the men, most notably in the field events. Sophomore Chase Meyers finished first in the high jump, while freshman Matthew O’Neal won the triple jump. Senior Neamen Wise and sophomore Drew Volz won the long jump and pole vault, respectively, to make it a clean sweep of the jumping events.
For the women, senior Monique Williams won the triple jump as well as long jump, setting a new personal record in the former. She was named USF’s first ever Big East Indoor Performer of the Meet, which is apparently a thing.
The meet was an impressive end to an indoor season that saw a lot of school records go down. Senior Courtney Anderson broke her own program record in the high jump, while senior Rachael James made a splash in the running events by breaking the program best in the 400 meters.
The finishes are pretty impressive given the Bulls’ jumps from last season’s indoor championships. The men finished fifth in 2012, while the women placed seventh.
Of course, the winter season runs pretty much straight into the spring season, where the Bulls have another slate of nonconference meets scheduled before the Big East Outdoor Championships. How indicative are indoor results of outdoor results? It’s difficult to say. Last season the Bulls were able to make a huge leap from fifth to second for the men, and seventh to third for the women—but they also had the privilege of hosting the meet on their home track. A three or four spot jump probably isn’t a sustainable trend, but it’ll be interesting to see if the Bulls can close the gap this spring and compete for a conference title. It’d be a huge step for both programs.
As for Valentine, he appears to be creeping ever closer to the coveted “boss” label, opening his spring season with his first-ever individual championship as a Bull. He was no slouch as freshman either, earning Big East Freshman of the Year honors.
Valentine jumped out to an early lead before the rest of the pack caught up with him in the final day of action, but he shot a blistering 5 under in the final 10 holes to pull away for the victory. He finished the tournament at 4 under with a 2-shot cushion over the nearest competitor.
Freshman Chase Keopka wasn’t too far behind in fourth place. The Bulls finished a respectable third out of 18 teams, behind Georgia Southern and Francis Marion (who?). There’s still a long way to go for the golf team, but we’ll get a better gauge for how well they can play this year when they host the USF Invitational beginning on March 3rd.