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February 19, 2014

University of Detroit Mercy track and field season is underway

By Mark Vest
C & G Sports Writer

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Pictured is University of Detroit Mercy track and field athlete Charles Anthony. The Titans are in the midst of their Indoor track and field season.

The Division I Indoor collegiate track and field season has begun, and it could be an interesting one for the University of Detroit Mercy.

While Guy Murray, who is UDM’s director of track and field/cross country, acknowledged that the men’s squad is young and the women’s team is in the process of growing and building, there are also some positives the Titans have going for them. Perhaps the best way for a program to gain momentum is via championship experience, and UDM has athletes on its roster who have just that.

Last season, the men’s cross country team won a Horizon League championship, and Murray said all the runners who were on that roster are also on the track and field squad. That championship was the first in the history of UDM’s cross country program, and Murray wouldn’t exactly mind if that title experience somehow has a positive carryover effect into the track season.

“The guys are off to a good start this year — the enthusiasm from the year,” he said. “Got a taste of success, and they want a little more. There’s an enthusiasm there. They’re working hard, and everybody’s off to a good start.”

UDM’s track and field squad includes athletes such as Fraser High School graduate Eric Lewis, who qualified for the NCAA hammer throw semifinals in the 2012 Outdoor season and was the Horizon League champion for weight in the 2012 indoor season; Charles Anthony, Farmington High School; Louisa Coppola, Warren Woods Tower; Brandee Hart, Berkley; and Allyson Koglin, Port Hope.

Murray may need strong contributions from those athletes, and others, if UDM hopes to win what would be the first men’s first Indoor league title since 2000 (Midwestern Collegiate), and the first women’s title since 2002 in the Horizon League. 

While UDM will be going after its first league title in more than a decade, Oakland University will be in search of its first-ever Horizon League championship, as this is the Golden Grizzlies’ inaugural season in the league. Murray likes the idea of having Oakland in the Horizon League.

“It’s different,” he said. “They bring different strengths and weaknesses to the league, and obviously, it’s down the road. We’ve had a friendly rivalry with them. We’re familiar in competing — now it’s just a little different. It makes the rivalry a little more. (Oakland) coach (Paul) Rice and I get along, so it’s fun to compete. And when you compete, you’re so close to somebody — get to know their kids almost as much as you know your kids. It’s fun.”

While Murray stated that “we feel pretty good” about the current state of UDM’s program, he has also given some thought as to what could lie ahead for the Titans.

“The freshmen on the guys team stepped in and are contributing right away,” he said. “The championship in cross country has us feeling optimistic, so we’re trying to build on that — trying to keep it going. The women’s side, we’ve got a nice freshmen class.  Sometimes, takes a little bit to develop. That’s always been a strength of our program — we’ve developed with athletes we get here. Sometimes, you have to be patient.”

A highlight from UDM’s track and field season thus far came Jan. 25, when the men’s and women’s squads combined to go 7-0 in separate dual meets at the IPFW Quadrangular in Fort Wayne, Ind.

The Titans are scheduled to compete Feb. 21 at the GVSU Tune-up, hosted by Grand Valley State University.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mark Vest at mvest@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1112. Twitter Follow Mark on Twitter.