When freshman Cassidy Teuscher first set foot on campus last fall, there were a lot of uncertainties about her new college life. As Teuscher adjusted to college and its abnormalities during the COVID-19 pandemic, she did not know if she could compete this year, as the track and field/cross country seasons held off on announcing a schedule for spring.
Five months later, Teuscher led the Southern Miss women’s track team to its first Indoor Conference Championship in school history.
“When we got here, we didn’t even know if we were going to have a cross country season, so everything’s a surprise, every week is something new, but I’m very grateful for what we have been able to do and it was really exciting to be able to win,” Teuscher said.
The women’s team had eight finishes on the podium at the Indoor Championships, with one gold from Vivette Green in the 200m dash, four silvers and three bronze winners. Teuscher was the top-point finisher with 16 points total.
For Head Coach Jon Stuart, winning the Indoor Championship came as the result of years of preparation and trust. After finishing near the bottom of the championship for years, the women’s team finished second place in 2018.
“There was a slight bit of disappointment because I thought we might have a chance to win, but at the same time, I just knew that good things were happening,” Stuart said. “It’s just one of those things that give you motivation that the things you’re doing, the policies you have in place, the schedule you have, the way you train every day. It’s a confirmation that you’re doing the right things.”
Stuart says Kate Maddox and Sarah Parnell’s third and fourth finishes in the mile run “snowballed” the team’s momentum.
“Each athlete just did really well in their event to score more points for us, and next thing you know […] it all adds up at the end of the day,” Stuart said.
The women’s team was tied for second place at the start of the final day. Stuart remembers that he told the coaches and players, “We’ve got a chance.”
As the women competed for a chance at first, the men’s team finished in sixth place and gathered two titles/ Trey Johnson won the 400m title, and Corvell Todd claimed the high jump title.
In his first year at Southern Miss, Todd also ranks sixth in the nation in high jumping. Stuart says Todd is “quiet as a mouse”, but speaks through his performance and work ethic.
“I feel like nobody can outwork me, and it took a lot to get there,” Todd said. “I just make sure I continue to work hard and stay in my position.”
Todd, a three-time NJCAA National Champion, says that he is determined to break the school record for high jump and eventually claim an NCAA title.
Teuscher also set records with and earned Freshman of the Meet, but had fought to compete this spring after she suffered from complications with her asthma over Christmas break.
Teuscher explains that she stayed committed by running 30 minutes each day over the break. She returned to regular workouts with teammates and coaches before her indoor debut at the Jaguar Invite on Feb. 7, where she set a record for completing a 3K as a freshman.
As the championship came to a close, Teuscher had one more event to finish: the 3K.
“I was like, you know what, this is my last race. If I break my leg sprinting, I’m gonna do it, and I don’t think I’ve ever run that fast in my entire life. […] I was just sprinting my heart out,” Teuscher said.
Teuscher mainly credits her teammates for what happened next, as they gave her motivation by cheering from the side.
“Every lap I would come around, and my coach is in the corner and is losing his mind, and I was like, okay this is good, these are good reactions. I had people yelling at me every quarter of the track cheering me on,” Teuscher said. “I know that, if I didn’t have that, I wouldn’t have pushed myself as hard as I did.”
Teuscher finished second and cut 11 seconds off of her personal-best. The 4×400 team later finished in fifth place to cap off Southern Miss’s victory. Stuart describes the moment when the team realized that first place was theirs and got their hands on the trophy.
“Once we held the trophy up, it was just a lot of fun,” Stuart said. “We just all wanted to yell ‘Southern Miss To The Top’, and just watch the kids celebrate because it’s a lot of fun to have them screaming, laughing and running around. […] It hasn’t happened very often for us, so it’s a great feeling.”
Stuart already has his sights on the outdoor championship and says the team is putting in extra work to prepare for the outdoor season. The season officially starts March 26 at the Bulldog Relays.
“We’ve got an outdoor championship that’s coming up, but this indoor one felt really good,” Stuart said.