T&F Teams Look To Break-Through in 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012
by Jeff Williford

One of the youngest programs in the UT Tyler athletics department is the men's and women's track and field programs.  Since 2008, the Patriots have fielded teams that have competed all across Texas and even the nation. 

While the T&F program is young, it has featured great individual performers and all-conference selections for four years.  This season, the Patriots men's and women's teams look to break-through and win their first American Southwest Conference championships in school history.

Last season, the men's team finished as ASC runners-up to the #1 ranked team in the country McMurry in their most successful season yet.  This season, both teams have their eye on the prize.

On the men's side, Coach Bob Hepler has a strong nucleus returning, including five returning ASC champions. 

Ross Renfroe, senior from Tyler won last seasons 1500m with a time of 4:05.09 and is the current ASC cross-country champion. 

Sophomore Nicklas Huff was last year's 800m champion with a time of 1:56.36 while Ed Palencia returns as the javelin throw champion.  Palencia won the conference championship with a throw of 55.86m in 2011.

Springter/jumper Chris Kearney was a member of the 2011 ASC runner-up in the 4X100m relay and will be the top jumper returning to the team and Chris Stonestreet returns as the ASC's top hammer thrower last season.

On the women's side,  distance runner Sarah Hankla looks to capitalize off her strong showing in 2011, while last season's ASC champion in the 400m hurdles, Kealey Gaffney returns for her sophomore season.  

Sophomore Taylin Eckols also returns and looks to give the Patriots a threat in the throwing competitions in 2012.

Coach Hepler feels very good about this seaon's freshman class, saying that it could be the strongest in the school's history.

Both men's and women's track teams will start the season at home at the UT Tyler Time Trials at Grace Christian School on Friday.