LEVELLAND - The South Plains College Track and Field teams are scheduled to host the NJCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships for the first time since 2008 when the Texan and Lady Texan tracksters look to defend their titles May 15-17 at the Texan Track and Field Complex in Levelland.
South Plains has swept both the men's and women's team titles the last three years when the meet was held in Hutchinson, Kan. and the Texans are in search of their sixth straight team championship. Head Coach Chris Beene
hopes his teams can keep the streaks intact.
"Last time we hosted four years ago we won the men and just barely lost the women," the eighth-year SPC coach said. "We had a girl get hurt and it almost ended up being the difference in the meet so we did not get a chance to win both the last time we were here (in 2008). That's something we want to do. We want to get after it on both sides and maybe have a chance to hoist both trophies at the end."
The Texans tied with Central Arizona in 2007 before winning on their home track in 2008 and then sweeping up in Hutchinson. Winning the 2012 edition of the NJCAA Championships would put the SPC men in a tie for third all-time for the most consecutive championships. Odessa won six in a row from 1981-1986, while Barton County won seven consecutive from 1998-2004. Blinn College owns the most consecutive with nine from 1987-1995.
Both teams appear primed to make another title run with the usual suspects of Iowa Central, Barton County, and Central Arizona lurking.
Looking at the latest performance lists one has to think both teams have a fair shot as SPC athletes are at or near the top in almost every single event and have multiple athletes in the top three in some events. The Texans have an athlete leading the pack in ten events, while the Lady Texans also lead ten events and have an athlete in second in seven events.
Some of that may change when the final entries are posted sometime Sunday night as each team is allowed a maximum of three entries per event but Beene said he enjoys having a well rounded team.
"That's always been our philosophy. We are going to go out and recruit the best athletes available in whatever events they can be in and have a rounded team and we will find ways to coach them."
South Plains also appears to be peaking at the right time. In their last competition at the Texas Tech Red Raider Open on May 5 they had 31 season bests and two school records, including an NJCAA record in the men's 4x400-meter relay.
"That's an 18-year-old NJCAA record set by Blinn College back when they were real dominant in the sport. That's probably been the biggest highlight, but we have had a lot of great performances. I feel like we ought to be confident and strong going into the national meet."
The Texans 4x400 meter relay time of 3:01.32 would lead all NCAA Division I schools by nearly a second.
Both coaches give credit to the SPC training staff for keeping their athletes healthy as they head into the NJCAA Championship meet.
"We are as healthy as we have been all year," said associate head track and field coach Blaine Wiley
. "That's a real tribute to our trainer, Mendy Wyatt
, and her staff keeping us healthy and getting us better and all of those things. The training staff does a good job of putting us back together and keeping us rolling and we appreciate what they do for us."
The meet is typically a recruiting hotbed for the elite teams from the NCAA and Beene feels its a great stage for the athletes to show what they can do.
"I'm excited for our kids," he said. "I love not only for it to showcase South Plains College but I love for our kids to have the opportunity, in front of all the division I coaches, to go out there and say ‘look what I can do and if you give me an opportunity in your program and the scholarship I deserve I would be happy to come do this for your school.'"
The meet is scheduled to begin Tuesday, May 15 at 9 a.m. with the multi-event competitions, men's and women's hammer throw, and men's and women's 10,000 meter run. The championship meet will then shift into full throttle on Wednesday with a full slate of field event finals beginning at 10 a.m. and running events beginning at 1 p.m.
"It takes a lot of help and a lot volunteers," Beene said of making the NJCAA Championship meet happen. "Track officials literally donate their time."
For more information regarding the 2012 NJCAA Track and Field Championships please visit www.spctexans.com.