The 2023-24 UCF Knights Athletics season is underway, and in honor of UCF’s accession into the Big 12 Conference, we will present our version of 12 for 12. For the next 12 days, we will tackle what we think are the 12 biggest questions facing UCF Athletics in the coming year across all sports.
Our next question:
10. Can the Track and Field team make the leap from NCAA individual participant group to team national title contender?
Jeff: Oh yeah, but it’s going to take a few things to happen. The Big 12 is excellent in Track and Field, but most of that excellence is due to Texas. They’re gone next year, but that doesn’t necessarily open things up for UCF, because Houston.
For UCF to become a dominant team, they will have to recruit better than they ever have. Team championships are won with down-roster performance, and that means depth, both in the bread-and-butter events (sprints) as well as the field and distance events.
The chance to compete against Olympic-level athletes will help recruiting, but it’s going to take a few cycles for UCF to get there.
Bryson: Having athletes like Rayniah Jones and Asherah Collins placing highly can certainly help things, but to compete for the team title you have to have a lot more than two athletes at such a level.
Assistant Coach Glenn Smith has helped the Knights on the field side of things as discus thrower Adrienne Adams, heptathlete Brittany Floyd and long jumper Jasmine Scott-Kilgo have made it to the NCAA Championships in recent years.
It’s going to take some time and the right recruiting classes, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
Eric: Yes it can. In fact, if you asked me which UCF sport is most likely to win a national title in the next 5-10 years, I say it comes from Track.
Remember, it was 10 years ago as a member of C-USA that UCF finished 5th in NCAA Championships and Aurieyall Scott won the first track and field NCAA national championship in UCF history in the 60-meter indoor race with a school record time of 7.13 seconds, edging out teammate Octavious Freeman, who got the bronze with a 7.16. Now Dana Boone will have more doors open in recruiting in the Big 12, which is a league Boone knows well from her time as an assistant coach at Texas Tech.
Andrew: Yes, but it won’t happen overnight. UCF’s been able to find gems here and there, but they have not put it all together yet. With the added exposure, resources, and competition, the staff has the opportunity to rise up.