TAMPA, Fla. — The USF track and field team is taking the eraser to the school record book.
The women's 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams have each broken school records that stood for more than 20 years. But head coach Erik Jenkins says the Bulls' success is driven by chasing records.
"I don’t think they’re necessarily going in with the idea of breaking a school record," Jenkins said, after practice. "It’s going in, trying to be successful. If school records come with it, then that’s what it is. But we want to be successful a the end of the day."
The Bulls say running faster and breaking records are things that come with building a program.
"It’s definitely exciting, seeing the progress we’ve made," said sprinter Gabrielle DesRosiers. "Each meet, we break a record. So that’s definitely exciting for the program itself, heading in the right direction."
Each relay team can make it look easy, but the runners admit there are plenty of nerves during the race.
Kadesha Prescott runs the anchor leg of the 4x100.
"I'm nervous," she said with a grin. "Because [third leg] Gabby is fast and powerful. And looking at her coming in is like, 'I gotta go, I gotta go.'"
Freshman Shaniya Benjamin runs both the 4x100 and the 4x400. She's also closing in on the school record in the long jump. The Alonso High grad said it's important for her not to go after too much too soon.
"I have more time to develop my other areas that I’m really good at. So I have more time to keep developing and developing," Benjamin said. "Also, so it’s not like putting too much on my plate at one time."
"She’s done a really good job for us," added Jenkins, who said the short drive to Benjamin's house was his first recruiting visit after getting the head coaching job in 2019. "We believe she has a lot of growing to do, which is a good thing."
Benjamin just wants to help lift her teammates to a higher level with every competition.
"Every day we keep getting better and better. Just to know that we’re amazing and that we can keep doing what we’re doing and keep running fast," he said.
The 2021 American Athletic Conference Outdoor Championships run Friday through Sunday at the USF Track & Field Stadium.