Sophomore Lucija Cvitanovic
Jan. 13, 2014
DALLAS (SMU) - The 2014 SMU track & field team returns 18 letterwinners and will seek to claim the first American Athletic Conference (AAC) Indoor Championship this winter. Director of Track & Field Dave Wollman has high expectations for his team and expects them to be very competitive. The Mustangs are coming off a second place finish at the Conference USA Outdoor Championships last spring and the distance runners won the inaugural AAC cross country championship last fall.
"I feel really good about how we have trained all offseason and we are ready to begin this competition this week," Wollman said. "The cross country championship last fall energized everyone in our program as now we want to carry that momentum over and get even more rings."
One of the Ponies' team leaders will be junior sprinter Stephanie Kalu, who set the 100-meter dash record at SMU last spring with 11.38 at the North Texas Classic. In addition to her record-setting time, she earned honorable mention All-America in that event as she placed 22nd on day one of the NCAA Championships last spring.
Following her outstanding spring, Kalu was invited to compete in the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Track & Field World Championships in Moscow, Russia back last August where she ran the 100 and on the 4x100-meter relay.
"Stephanie is a break through athlete for us as she has taught everyone on this team regardless of their specific event to dream big," Wollman said. "She has raised the bar and helped everyone to have greater focus and discipline."
In addition to Kalu, SMU has one other returning student-athlete who earned All-America recognition -- Lucija Cvitanovic. The junior earned second-team honors for placing 14th in the javelin with a distance of 50.73 meters. That mark ranks her third all-time at SMU.
Senior Helena Perez also returns after an outstanding junior campaign as she won the shot put at the C-USA Outdoor Championships last spring with a personal-best mark of 16.60 meters, which ranks fourth all-time at SMU.
Cvitanovic and Perez will be leading the Mustang throwers and multi-event athletes whom Coach Wollman believes is potentially the best group he has ever had.
The distance running group will be led by a young core that won the AAC Championship in the fall. Lone senior Caitlin Keen will be the leader as the distance group looks to maintain the status of best in The American. In the fall at The American Championships, SMU had six runners earn all-conference honors including Keen and sophomores Holly Archer, Karoline Skatteboe and Melanie Stemper and freshmen Tova Magnusson and Agnes Sjöström.
"Our main goal is to stay healthy and we have done that thus far through the cross country season and now the offseason," Wollman said. "Our goals for this season are for everyone to set personal bests and improve as the season goes along. I feel really good about how hard everyone has worked and what we are capable of achieving as a team this season."
SMU begins its indoor season Friday and Saturday at the Texas A&M Invitational in College Station, Texas.