May 7, 2009
DeKALB - The Northern Illinois track and field team will host the Inaugural Huskie Open, the first meet at the new NIU Track & Field and Soccer Complex, Saturday at 11 a.m.
The meet, which welcomes Augustana to DeKalb, is the first home track and field event since 1982. The Huskies ran that meet on the track just north of Huskie Stadium, partly under the current footprint of the Yordon Center.
Head Track & Field and Cross Country Coach Connie Teaberry noted the significance of the program's first meet since the early part of Ronald Reagan's first term as president. No member of the Huskie track and field team was even alive last time Northern Illinois hosted a meet.
"Historically, this is the step," Teaberry said. "It affects the recruiting, the training, the attitude knowing that they're prepared going into competitions."
At track and field practice this week, a palpable buzz intersected with a new level of focus among members of the team, which has set five school records this outdoor season.
"The excitement level is very high," Teaberry said. "The intensity of practice has increased."
At practice, that higher energy level has combined with competition-like conditions to boost the Huskies' performance heading into Saturday's meet.
"The track has allowed us to work so much more on jumping, technique, and confidence, in addition to working in the elements," Teaberry said. "We were so pampered weather-wise these first four years that I was here, practicing inside, that we'd go outdoors and not be used to the wind, the cold, the rain."
Wind is predicted to be the only factor the Huskies have to deal with, and with temperatures looking up, Teaberry expects a good crowd of NIU supporters.
"We've had so many positive e-mails, and calls from people who are coming," she said. "Family and friends are excited, and we just want to tell them thank you for the support. This time the home meet is where it belongs: here at home."
Several Huskie track and field alumni are expected to return for the event, including NCAA National Championships Qualifier Ashley Morrow
, who will compete unattached.
Saturday is also undergraduate graduation at the Convocation Center. Therefore, parking for athletics events will be in the following areas: Lots 24 and 25 ( the water tower lot), Lot 33 (Dorland Building lot), Stadium Drive South, Lot 31, Lot 31A and Stadium Drive North.
After the Huskie Open, Northern Illinois will travel to Akron, Ohio, for the Mid-American Conference Championships, May 14-16.