CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - A relatively short run-up to one of the biggest meets of the outdoor season has forced the University of Maryland track and field teams to concentrate preparation for this weekend’s Atlantic Coast Conference Outdoor Championships.
Having started the outdoor season on March 22, the Terrapins have had only three weekends of competition and an off week to get ready for one of the biggest meets of the season.
But head coach Andrew Valmon thinks his Terrapins are ready for the championships, which begin Thursday and end Saturday evening and will be hosted by North Carolina.
“With only a quick turnaround from the indoor season, it is important that our student-athletes come into these championships both mentally and physically prepared,” he said. “This has been our mission through the past few weeks of training.”
Maryland comes into the conference outdoor meet with one athlete seeking to defend an individual outdoor title. Junior Amber Melville captured the women’s high jump a year ago and added the ACC indoor title to her list of wins.
She comes into this meet ranked eighth in the nation, but second on her own team and in the ACC behind senior Amina Smith. A clearance of 6 feet, 0.75 inches at the Florida Relays has Smith second in the NCAA coming into the weekend.
Maryland finished 1-2-4 in the women’s high jump at the ACC Indoor, and those two will combine with junior pentathlon champ Thea LaFond to give the Terps another great chance at points in that event.
LaFond leads conference qualifiers in the women’s triple jump and is currently fifth in the nation.
“Our goal is to go after every point possible,” said Valmon. “While we will lean on several key individuals, it will be the group effort that pulls this all together.”
The Terrapins placed eighth at the ACC Outdoor last season, but were sixth as a team at the ACC Indoor.
Valmon also has an eye on this being Maryland’s final trip to the ACC meet, a championship the school dominated. The Terrapins’ 26 men’s team titles at the ACC Outdoor include 24 straight between 1956 and 1979. Clemson has the second-most men’s team titles with 11.
“We are looking forward to coming together as a team at the outdoor championships,” said Valmon. “In our last ACC meet, I would like to leave a lasting impression to carry on the Maryland legacy.”
Fans can follow the action all three days via ESPN3 and live streaming on theACC.com. Nearly 12 total hours of ESPN3 live coverage are scheduled on Thursday from 5 until 8:30 p.m., on Friday from 4:30 until 8:30 p.m., and on Saturday from 4 until 8 p.m. Viewers can access the webcasts at http://theacc.co/OTFchamp.
Live results will be available throughout the event on the championship website: http://theacc.co/OTFlivestats.