After an excellent performance at last year’s NCAA Outdoor Championships, the reigning 4x400M relay national champions are looking to defend their title and this year’s Texan team is excited about that opportunity.
In 2015, the Texan 4x400M relay team claimed a national championship with a time of 3:08.25, edging Lone Star Conference rivals Angelo State and Texas A&M-Commerce. From that team, three student-athletes return, including Cameron Krc, Gilson Umunnakwe and Clarencio Guerrero.
“We know going in that it’s going to be a lot of pressure to perform again,” said Umunnakwe. “We’ve trained for this though. We’re veterans and we know what to do. It’s all about going out there and performing like we know that we can. We’re ready for it, the time is now.”
With three returning athletes on the team, all eyes may be on Blake Eschbach who wasn’t running with the team at this time last year.
“Cameron, Gilson and me are the guys returning,” said Clarencio Guerrero. “Blake is the new guy on the team, but we’ve seen what the can do and he’s a great addition to the team.”
Eschbach himself has experience at the national meet and is looking forward to his opportunity on the big stage again.
“I do have some experience from the national meet because I competed in this race when I was a freshman,” he said. “But there’s still some pressure for me to perform. Just having the privilege to be back on this team is something that I’m happy about. I think we have all the faith in each other and that we’ll get the job done.”
One thing the team will have to achieve to bring home another championship is perform at a high level like they did last year.
“We’ve put up some decent times this year, but we’ve had very few meets where we’ve all performed really well,” said Cameron Krc. “In those meets we’ve had one or two stand out, but if we want to defend our title then we’ll have to leave it all out there and all perform at a high level.”
The lack of sharp times can be attributed to several guys missing time throughout the season. According to Eschbach, the injury bug has hit the team several times throughout the year, but now they’re all ready to go.
“We’ve had some issues with injuries this year,” he said. “We haven’t been running together the whole season, it’s been a lot of mixing and matching to stay competitive. Our team has overcome some obstacles and this is one of those. We’re just excited to see what we can do.”
With all four student-athletes ready to go, the chemistry is something the team thinks will be a valuable asset.
“We have a lot of chemistry. Back in my freshman year, Blake and I were on the B-team and we did a lot of good things that year. We both showed that we could compete with the big dogs and coach made the decision to put us on the A-team and since then a lot of good stuff has been happening. Everyone’s head is on straight and we all have the same mindset and focus. We were the group that broke a 20-plus year school record. We’re going to show up and show out and give all glory to God.”
The 4x400M team will compete in the prelim round tonight at approximately 6:50 CST.