Seventeen members of the TCU track and field team are in Eugene, Ore., to participate in the 2014 NCAA championships Wednesday through Saturday.
Eleven of them are freshmen or sophomores.
“It’s very uncommon,” TCU coach Darryl Anderson said. “We’ve just got good kids. I think the kids did a good job buying in. It took a while from a development standpoint for them to get to this point, but needless to say, they’re here.”
Leading the charge for TCU are four athletes making return trips to the NCAA championships.
Four-time All-American Lorraine Ugen, a junior from London, is the reigning 2013 and 2014 outdoor and indoor long jump champion, a title she took over after TCU’s Whitney Gipson won the 2012 outdoor long jump crown.
“I think she understands that her ability level is high enough to get this thing done,” Anderson said of Ugen. “… If she competes the way she’s always competed, she’ll be fine.”
Versatile Ronnie Baker, a sophomore from Louisville, Ky., returns to Eugene having qualified in four events. Baker will run the 100- and 200-meter sprints along with the 4x100 and 4x400 relays.
Baker will be joined on the 4x400 relay by two other NCAA championship veterans: Narada Jackson, a sophomore from Harare, Zimbabwe; and Harvey McSwain, a sophomore from King’s Mountain, N.C.
Through Ugen’s success and the development of the younger athletes who have found somewhat instant success in their collegiate careers, Anderson said TCU has built the right atmosphere for the program to continue to thrive.
“From a long-term standpoint, I think that’s going to help us as we move into next year and the following years because we’ll have a lot of people that have been around the block. It should go a whole lot easier,” he said.