Four TCU athletes represented the Frogs at the NCAA Indoor Championships this March following a Big 12 championship where a pair of Frogs broke school records in their respective events.
Three Frogs brought home medals at the national competition to conclude their indoor track and field season this year.
Sophomore Robert Gregory Jr. qualified for the national meet one week before at the Big 12 championship meet, where he put down a 20.85 second 200, just .18 seconds away from his indoor personal record of 20.67 seconds. His time earned him the rank of tenth in the nation, but he didn’t want to settle for just a spot on the track.
“The number one goal is to win,” the young sprinter said before the meet. “But it’s mainly just to go and come out healthy and be ready to get into outdoor season, that’s what I really want to do.”
Senior Tinotenda Matiyenga ran alongside Gregory in the 200 — literally — and stood next to each other on the podium, fashioning a bronze and silver medal.
Matiyenga beat Gregory by .12 seconds in the prelims, but when the two Frogs raced in the same section in the finals, Gregory edged out his teammate by .07 seconds. This put Matiyenga into third place and Gregory into second, missing a national title by .31 seconds.
Gregory said he’s excited to move onto the outdoor season and has high hopes for him and his teammates. He gained some extra motivation this season after suffering an injury last year.
“I’m hyped for outdoor because I feel like I have a chip on my shoulders from last year because I got hurt in the finals,” Gregory said.
Matiyenga and Gregory were the only runners to qualify for the national meet, but two more athletes represented TCU at the meet. Senior triple-jumper Grace Anigbata qualified for the championship meet with a jump of 12.26 meters, which is good for the 16th best jump in the nation.
In the men’s triple-jump, Chengetayi Mapaya, often referred to as “Du,” jumped 16.28 to earn a silver medal. Earlier in February, he took the top spot in the world, at that time, with a jump of 16.80 meters. He was ranked No. 5 in the world coming into the national meet.
Anigbata hit a jump of 11.08 meters at the championship, which was good for a 15th place finish, despite being over a meter shorter than her season best. Mapaya was a clear favorite in the event on the men’s side, and he hit a respectable distance of 16.51 meters; however, he was out-jumped by two other competitors, falling .24 meters short of a national title.
Despite only sending four athletes to the meet, TCU still finished tenth overall in the team standings.
Graduate Kasey Staley was a Frog with the chance to qualify for the national meet but fell short. At the beginning of the season, Staley said she wanted to place in the top three at the Big 12 championship meet, which she said would be just as hard to do as qualifying for the national meet.
She finished fourth with a vault of 4.27 meters at Big 12s and missed the podium by .10 meters (about 4 inches). This shattered her previous school record and personal record of 4.10 meters, which she set earlier in the season at the Wooo Pig Classic. Had Staley reached the same height as she did at Big 12s this time, she would have secured seventh place in nationals, ahead of two of the other Big 12 competitors that she finished behind the week before.
Over the break, TCU added a transfer student to their team: sophomore Gracie Morris. Morris attended Aledo High School in the DFW area and transferred to TCU from the University of Texas at Austin.
“I struggled a lot mentally and it started to hold me back in terms of my performance, so I talked with my family and decided to find a new home,” Morris said.
Morris made her debut for the Frogs at the Big 12 championships, where she set the TCU women’s record in the mile, clocking a time of 4:40.
“I was extremely grateful to be able to step on the track again at Big 12s after struggling with injuries since I was a sophomore in high school,” Morris said.
Looking forward, she hopes to compete in the Olympics, but for now, Morris is looking forward to taking on the outdoor season with the rest of the team.
“This outdoor season I would like to make my first NCAA national appearance and place,” said Morris. “I’ve been able to bond with [the team] really quickly and they’re all very welcoming and supportive.”
Morris should be a complimentary piece to accompany sophomore Mariana Martinez, who led the women’s cross country team in the fall. The two look to be a force in the outdoor track season, alongside their teammates seeking the national meet in Eugene, Oregon in June this year.