10 consecutive national championships is not a term that gets mentioned very often in the world of athletics. If at all.
Most likely due to the fact it has never been accomplished at any national level, ever. You can look back into the golden years of 1964 and see that John Wooden's UCLA basketball program won 10 national titles over a 12-year span, beginning in '64 and capsizing in 1975. Not bad.
But, for South Plains head coach Chris Beene and his 2016 Outdoor track & field squad, that feat has a chance to become reality come May at the NJCAA national Outdoor meet in Levelland, as his men's team has won nine consecutive Outdoor national championships, with the possibility of making it 10 should the pieces fall into place this season.
"To win another title this year is going to be tough, but I think we will be really competitive here at home," Beene said. "Other teams are going to have to travel and come a long way, but we don't and we can kind of be comfortable. If our kids can show up and compete, I think we will have a chance to make it 10."
The Texans will be lead by Amarillo native Hassan Abdi, who was a second team All-American in the 10,000 meters a season ago, and lead the Texans to the 2015 Half-Marathon national crown in November. Also returning for the Texans is Dedrian Windham, who was a third team honorable mention nominee last season in the 4x400 at the national meet. After graduating nine national champions from the 2015 Outdoor team, new faces and new opportunities are plentiful in 2016.
"We are all training as hard as we can and trying to do the right things to get prepared for nationals." Abdi said. "There is no pressure, because we are treating this one like it is our first, and hopefully everybody is motivated enough to want to win and not want to settle for second. I need to be performing well and stay focused on my goals so I can be an example to others and hopefully influence them."
With that said, the Texans won't be the only ones vowing for an opportunity to protect their national crown in 2016, as the South Plains College Lady Texans will be looking to capture their third consecutive Outdoor championship this season.
The Lady Texans will have several returners from last year's championship group, including Deja Harrison and Medinah Spencer, who were both national champions last season in the 4x400 relays. Harrison was also a second team All-American in the 4x800, and Spencer was named a second team All-American in the 100 hurdles for South Plains.
The 2016 Indoor national title holder Morgan Hartsell will also be returning for another shot at gold in the women's pole vault competition, as the sophomore from Lubbock was a second team All-American last season at the national Outdoor meet. The Lady Texans' Tasha Crosse was named an honorable mention third team selection in 2015 in the women's discuss event, and will be looking to take the next step this season. Aaliyahah Telesford was also named a third team honorable mention selection in 2015 in the women's 4x400, rounding out a solid core group for the Lady Texans to build upon in the upcoming year.
"When you get to the national meet, every point really counts, and sometimes your eighth place kid can literally be the difference," Beene said. "When you get some kids who can score points in several different events, it really helps us out. We've got some kids who can step up and do some good things. We're not as deep of a team as we were in the past, but we've got good quality."
South Plains will begin their journey and the opportunity to make national collegiate history this weekend when they travel to the University of Texas El Paso for the UTEP Springtime meet. Live results can be found at www.spato.us along with real time updates from the meet.