TCU opens outdoor season at home

After winning the women’s Mountain West Indoor Championships and Whitney Gipson’s NCAA long jump title, the outdoor season begins for the TCU track & field program as it hosts the TCU Invitational at Lowdon Track and Field Complex Thursday.

“It’s really going to play a role as we move outdoors,” head coach Darryl Anderson said. “Anytime you win a championship of any type, it has to help you move forward because it changes the culture of your program and changes the expectations of the rest of the team.”

The level of competition outdoors will be a step higher, Anderson said. The team will be facing Big 12 opponents this weekend, which is a good opportunity for the team to prepare for the conference move next season.

Some of the programs TCU will compete against are Texas, Baylor, Houston, North Texas, SMU, Texas State and UTA.

“Competition is going to be more or less the challenge for us, which is really going to make us ready for the postseason, when we get ready for conference, first round of the NCAA Championships and onto the final round of the NCAA Championships,” Anderson said.

“That’s what we try to do with our schedule, make it as challenging as possible.”

He said he wanted to make all the athletes “battle-tested tough,” which meant physically and emotionally ready when they moved into the postseason. The higher level the team’s performance started at, the higher the finish point will be, Anderson said.

Senior Whitney Gipson said recovery would be key to the team’s performance because of the rigorous upcoming schedule. The track & field team will have back-to-back meets all over the country for several weeks in a row.

“The biggest transition is, especially after winning the indoor title, we’ve got to keep improving and make sure everybody’s doing what they’re supposed to do,” Gipson said.

She said the TCU Invitational would be a good starting point for the outdoor season, so the team could see where it is and what it needed to work on for the next meet.

“We want to have some type of balance that would allow us to be very, very competitive at the conference level,” Anderson said. “We’ve got to have people elevate themselves where their level of competition is always in line [with] NCAA Championship performances,” he said.

Long jump gold medalist Gipson said she would continue to follow her goals for the outdoor season and not let anyone distract her. She said she would not allow herself to become content and would continue to work hard the rest of the season.

“The biggest thing is you want to go in and compete because you want to get your season started off on a positive note and not be backpedaling right out of the gate,” Anderson said.

“If you can take positive steps in March, then it gives you a great opportunity to have a great evolution that will take you into May and June.”

The invitational will be March 15-16, with three throwing events Thursday and a full day of running and field events Friday.