SAN ANTONIO (Jan. 30, 2018) – The Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) men's track and field team is expecting a repeat performance from last year's historic season. The men had an individual qualify for the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championships and the Saints were runners up in the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC) Championships, as well.
Head Coach Stephen Sherman said, "Having never taken anyone individually to the national track meet, indoor or outdoor, and having multiple people do it last year was a phenomenal feat. Obviously, now we are looking on building on that. Our slogan has always been, 'let's make every year better than the last,' so obviously we are wanting to build upon that and take it to the next level."
Sherman said it's been a long off-season for the sprints/jump group, and Assistant Coach Terry Smith has been working closely with them. "Coach Smith has done a phenomenal job with them. It's tough coaching cross-country [in the fall] and making sure the track athletes are getting their needs taken care of as well. I'd like to thank him and also that group for being mature about it and going out there with their lunch pail every morning. They are getting up at 6 a.m. every morning for looking at January/February [for their season start] and they've been doing that since August. So for a group that has been putting in that kind of effort and time is pretty invaluable. I believe it's going to take us to the next level."
The Saints will begin their 2018 indoor season on Feb. 2-3 at the Missouri Southern Open in Joplin, Mo. On Feb. 9-10, they will travel to Pittsburgh, Kan., for the Pittsburgh State University Gorilla Classic. And on Feb. 16, the Saints will compete at the Texas Tech University – Matador Qualifier. March 1-3, the NAIA Indoor Track and Field Championship will take place in Pittsburgh, Kan.
On Feb. 24, the Saints will kick off their outdoor schedule at Trinity University in San Antonio. The University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) Spring Break Invite will take place March 15-16, also in San Antonio. Trinity will host the Tiger Open on March 31, and UIW will present the UIW Invitational April 13-14. The Saints will then get set for the RRAC Championship in Marshall, Texas. The teams will have two more meets before nationals. The Texas State University Bobcat Classic will take place April 27-28 in San Marcos, Texas, and the Texas Tech University Texas Tech Open will be held May 5 in Lubbock, Texas. The NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championships will take place May 24-26 in Gulf Shores, Ala.
Top Long-Distance Returners
Returning this year and running long distance will be standouts Derek Barnett (SR/Redlands, Calif.) and Patrick Torres (SR/San Antonio, Texas). Barnett suffered an injury during cross-country season, and Torres had exhausted his eligibility for cross-country, but Sherman is expecting great things from them. "Having Derek back is going to be huge. We only ran him one meet last year, and we felt it all season, not having his presence there in terms of not being able to place for us. We are looking forward to [Pat] doing great things for us out there as well."
Barnett placed fourth in the 3k, sixth in the 4x400m relay and third in the 4x800m relay. Torres came in fourth in the 5k and sixth in the 10k.
Other Long-Distance Returners
Also returning in the long-distance category are Nathaniel Aguilar (JR/El Paso, Texas), Patrick Bousselot (JR/Cibolo, Texas), Luis Ramirez (JR/San Antonio, Texas) and Justin Ybarra (JR/Harlingen, Texas). "In conference, the distance events are where we can really stack some points, and so all those guys are not just role players but people we are going to count on to put some points on the board for us. Every last one of them is going to have to come through huge for us at the conference meet, and beyond that, I am just looking for them all to improve."
Aguilar came in fourth in the 1500m, fifth in the 3k, fifth in the 5k and third in the 4x800m relay. Ramirez came in sixth in the 5k and fourth in the 10k. Ybarra placed sixth in the 10k.
Other Track and Field Returners
Jose Lima (SO/Cibolo, Texas) will be returning as a sprinter. Sherman said, "We are looking for him to take the next step. He's got some things he needs to improve on, and he knows that, and we are looking forward to him making those improvements."
Last year, Lima came in sixth in the 4x400m relay and third in the 4x800m relay.
Hurdlers/Throwers who are returning are Rene Perez (SO/Laredo, Texas) and Clayton Townsend (SO/Schertz, Texas). "Both of them are kind of Swiss Army Knives," Sherman commented. "We put them in a lot of different scenarios, basically trying to put them where they can contribute the best and have a good time doing it. Those two guys are work horses. We love having them."
Perez came in sixth in the 4x100m relay and in the 4x400m relay. Townsend came in sixth in the 4x100m relay.
The top newcomer is Kyle Byerly (FR/Boerne, Texas) and Sherman said, "He's a very talented guy in short sprints. He's a guy that we've really been trying to get, that caliber guy, here for a couple of years now, and to have him here is going to be a huge boost for us."
Coming off a successful cross-country season and competing in their first track and field season for the Saints are Andrew Moczygemba (SO/San Antonio, Texas) and Miguel Segura (FR/San Antonio, Texas). Moczygemba captured the conference individual title in the 8k, marking the first time ever for an OLLU male runner to place first. Segura placed 11th in the championships.
The Saints biggest opponent has always been Wiley College, which won the conference title last year. They are a national-caliber quality team. In the past few years, they have competed for national championships. "It's a little bit tighter fighting for that second spot," Sherman said. "You've got Langston, Huston-Tillotson and a number of other teams that can compete for that second spot. The challenge for our guys is to not only see if we can press Wiley, and for sure to secure that second spot again, because that was a huge step in the right direction for us last year."
Other conference opponents are Huston-Tillotson University, Jarvis Christian College, Langston University, Texas College and the University of the Southwest.
This year, the conference meet will take place in Marshall, Texas, at the Marshall Independent School District Track and Field complex. "We've never competed there before. We've competed in that area, but never at that complex." The meet will be hosted by Wiley College.
Saints Fans invited to Track and Field Meets
Sherman encourages Saints fans to come out and support the track teams. "Most of our outdoor meets are local, whether at the University of the Incarnate Word or Trinity University, just about 15 minutes from campus. I think watching our track teams can be exciting in that you can go to a track meet and sit there for the duration of the meet and you're pretty much going to see a Saint in every event. That hasn't always been the case. It was the case last year, but even more so this year. We are going to be able to fill spots that maybe we haven't been able to fill in the past. Beyond that, we are pretty good."