TOWSON, Md. — It’s a Tiger turnaround in Towson.
“We continue to transition. We continue to grow and get better,” said Mike Jackson. “We're just one of those programs who just want it. We want it bad. We want it now.”
In only his fourth year as head coach of Towson University women’s track and field, Jackson has molded his team into a regional power.
When he took over they were coming off a last place finish in the Colonial Athletic Association. In each of the past three years they've finished top three. This week they're sending a program-record-matching four athletes to NCAA regionals.
“We're locked in, ready to go,” said Jackson. “We have four of our best who are going to represent our program, our team and our university, and we're really excited about it.”
The quartet of Tigers heading to the NCAA East Region Preliminary Meet are: Shelby Francis (400 meter hurdles), Hayley Horvath (pole vault), Michella Obijiaku (shot put) and Phontavia Sawyer (discus).
To make it to regionals you have to rank in the top 48 in the region.
Horvath is the first Towson pole vaulter to ever make it this far. The freshman posted a school record pole vault of 4.1 meters.
“I'm very excited. I'm just looking forward to getting out there and compete one more time,” she said.
“Hayley Horvath, she's ice cold,” said Jackson. “Whenever she's in a battle, she always comes out on top.”
Like Horvath, Francis is a CAA champion. She has her eyes on a potential personal record.
“It's my first regionals ever. We're going to Florida. It's going to be hot. It's like P.R. weather. I'm excited to go out there, do my best,” said the Tigers junior.
The prelims are scheduled for Thursday through Saturday in Jacksonville.
“We have great chances,” said Jackson. “We don't go into this planning to fail. We plan to succeed.”
The top 12 qualifiers in each event in the East and West regionals meet up in the nationals, in Austin, Texas. That begins on June 5.