Middle distance success could be key to winning Big 12 Indoor Championships

Kristin Otto

‘Tis the season for Big 12 battles. Joining in the festivities will be the women’s track and field team, scheduled to represent Texas in the Big 12 Indoor Championships this weekend.

Be prepared, however, because this conference championship comes with a twist that will undoubtedly result in tightened, cut-throat competition.

This weekend will be the second time for College Station to host the Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championships. More notably — with Texas A&M’s controversial, impending transfer to the SEC — it will also be the last time.

The meet is uniquely structured in that individual athletes earn points for their teams. Ultimately, the team with the highest cumulative score is declared the Big 12 conference champion. The top-placing schools will be honored in an awards ceremony following the final race of the weekend.

In order to earn as many points as possible, head coach Beverly Kearney has taken the approach of spreading her athletes out across an array of competitions in such a fashion that team members have testified that there is not an event in which Texas cannot place in the top 8.

On Friday, sophomore Marielle Hall and junior Julie Amthor will compete in the first running event of the meet, the mile, at 3 p.m.

Looking for a repeat first place finish, Kendra Chambers will take on the 600-yard race later in the afternoon. A dedicated 400-meter runner during the regular season, she has adopted her coach’s team-centered mind-set.

Chambers will not attempt to qualify for nationals in the 400-meter this weekend — putting the task off until the Last Chance Meets. Instead, she will compete in the 600-yard run because she knows it is the race in which she can most benefit her team.

While Kearney maintains that she has all of the bases covered, she is particularly enthusiastic about one particular facet of the meet.

“Hall and Sara Sutherland, who is also a sophomore, [have] both given the team confidence in the middle distance area … [making] us more of a well-rounded and solid, quality team.”

On Saturday afternoon, Sutherland will join Hall — the reigning Big 12 indoor champion in the 1,000-meter — in the 3-kilometer race.

In the last women’s race of the weekend, Texas’ ‘A’ 4×400-meter relay team — which took second in last year’s conference championship, trailing Texas A&M by a mere 0.04 seconds — will aim not only to secure a first place finish in the event, but moreover clench a Big 12 conference victory for the Longhorns.

Printed on Friday, February 24, 2012 as: Kearney utilizing athletes to maximize point total