Competition at Olympic trials prepares TCU track for Big 12 foes

Posted Tuesday, Jun. 26, 2012  comments  Print Reprints
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TCU sprinter Charles Silmon is used to running against the best competition in the nation.

Last weekend, Silmon advanced to the 100-meter semifinals of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Ore., and finished 12th overall.

He expects his races next year against Big 12 opponents to be just as competitive.

"I raced against the best of the best here in Eugene," Silmon said. "These are the top guys from the Big 12, SEC. Many of the guys who beat me have been to the Olympics.

"That helps me to continue improving and get ready for the Big 12. If I can race against these guys, I'm thinking, 'Wow, I can race against guys in the Big 12.'"

Silmon has won multiple Mountain West titles, including two straight in the 100 meters, and he was named an All-American after his performance at the NCAA championships.

Silmon, a senior next year for TCU's first season in the Big 12, is one of the many talented TCU track and field athletes who will try to make an immediate impact on their new conference.

"The big challenge will be for our returning kids to understand that the Big 12 will be harder, and we will need to be game-ready for the Big 12 meet," TCU track and field coach Darryl Anderson said. "I think sometimes, in the sprints, we took the Mountain West lightly. We won't be able to do that in the Big 12. It will be a different mindset."

Silmon wasn't the only returning Frog challenging for an Olympic team. Lorraine Ugen, who was a freshman last year, competed in the long jump in Birmingham, England. Ugen, who is from London, finished second with a jump of 22 feet 11/2 inches, but was one centimeter short of the Olympic A qualifying standard. She has until Sunday to try another jump to make the team.

"Having our kids at the trials helps us with recruiting, but I would like it to motivate the kids who didn't qualify," Anderson said. "I want them to look at it and say, 'Hey, we should all be there.'"

Facing talented teams like Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma won't be new for TCU. The Frogs compete in meets against Big 12 schools every year.

But now, instead of traveling to a cold-weather, high-altitude climate for conference meets, TCU will stay in its comfort zone. Last season's MWC outdoor championship was in Colorado Springs. The 2011 conference championship was in Fort Collins, Co.

"It was tough on us," Anderson said. "We always had to deal with weather that wasn't ideal in the Mountain West."

Anderson expects the Big 12's talent level to force the Frogs to improve.

"On both sides, men and women, we will need to step up, be more resilient and expect to challenge to be the best," he said. "The Big 12 mirrors the NCAA championships. They are both on the same competition level.

"For years, people have wondered why we weren't in the Big 12."

Moving to the Big 12

Twelfth in a 15-part countdown looking at how TCU teams might fare in the Big 12.

Thursday: Men's tennis

Track and field teams in the Big 12

Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, West Virginia

Last five championships

Big 12

Indoor

Year

men

women

2012

Tex. A&M

Tex. A&M

2011

Tex. A&M

Nebraska

2010

Oklahoma

Tex. A&M

2009

Texas

Tex. A&M

2008

Texas

Tex. A&M

Outdoor

Year

men

women

2012

Tex. A&M

Texas

2011

Tex. A&M

Tex. A&M

2010

Nebraska

Tex. A&M

2009

Nebraska

Tex. A&M

2008

Colorado

Tex. A&M

MWC

Indoor

Year

men

women

2012

Air Force

TCU

2011

BYU

BYU

2010

BYU

BYU

2009

BYU

BYU

2008

BYU

TCU

Outdoor

Year

men

women

2012

Air Force

TCU

2011

BYU

BYU

2010

BYU

BYU

2009

BYU

BYU

2008

BYU

Colo. St.

Best in the Big 12

With Texas A&M leaving the conference for the SEC, Texas should be the favorite in 2013. The Longhorns won the women's outdoor championship last season and the men finished second behind the Aggies by 19 points. Texas also finished second behind A&M in both the men's and women's indoor championships.

Quotable

"It's better competition and no cold weather places. It will be a lot better atmosphere, and people pay more attention to you." TCU senior sprinter Charles Silmon

Circle the date

TCU will compete in its first Big 12 indoor and outdoor championships in 2013.

Brent Shirley, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @bshirley08

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