THE United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association have ranked the Texas Christian University’s men’s track and field programme in 25th place in the country.
This followed the conclusion of the 2020-21 indoor season, thanks to the exploits of four Zimbabwean athletes who are based at this college.
The Texas Christian University is the home of four Zimbabwean athletes — Chengetayi “Du” Mapaya, Tinotenda Matiyenga, Kundai Maguranyanga and Simba Maketa — who are all on athletics scholarships.
The four were part of TCU’s men’s track and field team, which won a number of accolades, during the just-ended 2020-21 National Collegiate Athletic Association indoor season in the United States.
The curtain came down on the season last weekend, with the staging of the National Championships at Fayetteville, in Arkansas.
Star triple jumper, Mapaya, led a trio of TCU stars who qualified for this big collegiate event in the United States.
Zimbabwean sprinter Matiyenga was also part of the TCU team of three athletes who showcased their skills at this event.
The championships attracted scores of top upcoming male and female track and field athletes, from a number of university colleges, dotted across the United States.
And, in a quality competition, Mapaya stole the limelight from his fellow TCU athletes, when he finished second overall, in his event. This enabled The Frogs to score eight points this past weekend, tying Minnesota, Arizona, Colorado State and Iowa, according to reports from Texas.
TCU’s men also ended the season ranked as the fourth-highest team in the Big 12.
The Big 12 Conference, originally Big 6 Conference, is the American collegiate athletic organisation composed of the Universities of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, as well as Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Baylor, Texas Christian, Texas Tech and West Virginia.
But, at the weekend, the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) ranked the TCU’s men’s track and field programme, as the 25th-best this year.
The USTFCCCA are a New Orleans, Louisiana-based professional association representing men’s and women’s cross country and track & field coaches in the United States.
The organisation have about 8 000 members. Ninety-four percent of NCAA track and field programmes are members of USTFCCCA.
They were impressed by TCU’s men’s track and field programme, which helped Mapaya to earn the national runner-up spot in the triple jump, at the 2021 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships.
Oregon’s Emmanual Ihemeje sailed out to 17.26m to comfortably win the men’s triple jump ahead of Mapaya.
Mapaya’s mark of 16.95m broke Ndabazihle Mdhlongwa’s Zimbabwe indoor triple jump record from 1998 (16.89m), as well as TCU’s school record.
His jump also noted a new indoor personal best for the Zimbabwean athlete. The senior’s previous best indoor jump was 16.85m at the Texas Tech Shoot-out that set a TCU record earlier this year.
The 2019 NCAA outdoor triple jump champion becomes a six-time All-American.
He also garnered a bronze medal at the 2019 NCAA Indoor Championships.
As a freshman in 2018, Mapaya reached the championship in the triple jump and finished third with a 16.38m jump.
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Matiyenga and his teammate at TCU, Robert Gregory (Jnr), both collected second-team All-America honours, after placing ninth and 12th overall in the 200m respectively at Fayterville.
He became a five-time All-American while Gregory, a freshman, notched his first career honour.
This denotes the first time Matiyenga received an All-America selection in an individual event.
All four of his previous entries were as a member of the men’s 4x400m and 4x100m relay teams. Two other TCU-based Zimbabwean athletes, sprinters Maguranyanga and Maketa, failed to qualify for this year’s NCAA Indoor Championships.
But, they are both looking forward to the outdoor season, which starts in a couple of weeks time.