NCAA Track Championships Press Conference
May 29, 2001
On Tuesday, May 29, several of the nation's leading collegiate men's and women's track and field athletes and head coaches were on hand for a press conference at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field in preparation for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
The following excerpts were accumulated Tuesday.
Men's Head Coaches
'We're always happy to be here in Eugene. Tennessee has done some good things here in the past (the Volunteers won the 1991 NCAA title in Eugene). Our guys are healthy, we have seven individuals and two relays, so we're going to line it up and go against some great athletes. With our conference, it's a continual battle. You just have to continue to prove you can compete at that level, so I think we're battle-tested and we're looking forward to this meet.'
'Everyone, be it track athletes or coaches, recognizes the history here, and we're happy to be here. We're going to be ready to run fast, and we know that this is a great place to compete and run fast.'
'Our team, both men and women, are healthy and are ready to go. We bring a relatively young group in, but I think we have some people that have had some great experiences who can lead our group. So, we're pleased where we are. I'm happy to be considered in this group, but I think there are some teams and coaches that aren't sitting up here that could win.'
'We're really looking forward to the 5K on Friday and that kind of competition. I like running in this environment, in front of these fans and being at Oregon, which has the legacy of Prefontaine. And I'm really honored to be here.'
'I'm looking forward to performing. I'm happy to be here in Oregon and I'm looking forward to the meet. We just have to have a good day. This is it, this is what counts, we have to remember what we learned in practice.'
'The atmosphere here is great, and with the current weather it should make for some big scores. I'm looking forward to the meet.'
Women's Head Coaches and Athletes
'(About the recent tabling of the proposed NCAA regional qualifying system for next year) Personally, we did not think the regionals were adhering to the best interests of the student athlete, they would have to spend more time away from their classwork by going to another championship. But I think we're going to have a better NCAA Championship here and a better championship next year. The key is getting more kids into the meet.'
'I think all coaches want to see their team win. Obviously everyone here wants to go after the team championship, but what we want is to see our athletes rise to the occasion and do the best job that they can.'
'I think, obviously there are some teams and athletes that aren't sitting up here that could win the championships. You can't control your opponent, you can only control yourself, so hopefully everyone here will get a chance to compete against some great athletes.'
Miki Barber, South Carolina, 200, 400, 4x400
'The Olympics were a great experience for me, and I learned a lot. Coming back from the Olympics was harder, because I took a break. Indoor season was hard for me, so I worked harder, and I'm very happy to be back in shape and running well again.'
(On moving to the U.S. from Lithuania) 'It was not very easy to change countries and to move so far away from home. But I think it was worth it. Here in America it is easier to get a degree and practice at the same time. On the other hand, it is hard to be so far away from family and friends.'
(On the prospect of any USC-UCLA rivalry) 'We just want to go out there and do what we have to do. Off the field, we can be friends, but when we're competing you just have to do what it takes. It's not about hatred or anything like that, we're here to compete and have fun.'