Courtesy: Spencer Farrin (Pullman, Wash.)
|Vandal men and women lead|
MOSCOW, Idaho – The University of Idaho men’s and women’s teams both hold overall leads after three days of competition at the Western Athletic Conference Track & Field Championships at the Dan O’Brien Track & Field Complex.
On the first full day of individual competition, Vandals claimed one title each on the men’s and women’s sides and earned 12 total First-Team All-WAC honors and nine Second-Team All-WAC certificates on the day. Idaho’s men hold 93 points to lead, while the Vandal women sit at 51.5.
“Our men’s team goal is 200 points and we don’t have half the events scored yet and we have some potential big point events ahead still, so we feel very good about what happened today,” Idaho director of track and field/cross country Wayne Phipps said. “We picked up points here and there, which is really key for us, and we set ourselves up really well for tomorrow.”
Sophomore Kyle Rothwell started things off for Idaho in the day’s first event with a throw of 187-7 (57.18m) and a win in the men’s hammer throw for his first career WAC title. He also added a toss of 149-6 (45.56m) in the discus throw for a fifth-place finish and All-WAC Second Team honor.
“I’ve thought about it for probably the last year now,” Rothwell said. “I did really well last year, so I knew that I’m the number one guy coming back and had a chance to be on top – it just feels awesome.”
Alycia Butterworth and Holly Stanton, just sophomores for Idaho, realized a goal that they set last season as freshmen went they went 1-2 in the women’s steeplechase. Butterworth ran a 10:42.59 to win, while Stanton followed behind with a personal-best 10:50.18 for runner-up honors.
“I love it and I’m so proud of Holly,” Butterworth said of the finishes. “She ran so well and we weren’t just one-two, we were both ahead by quite a bit. Every time the announcer said she was extending the gap over third place, I’d get really excited and it was just so cool.”
Vandal throws were on strong display Thursday. In addition to Rothwell’s hammer win, the Vandal men took fourth and fifth in the event, with both sophomore Andrey Levkiv and redshirt freshman Zach Trumbauer posting personal records on the day.
Levkiv hit 163-3 (49.77m), while Trumbauer added nearly 11 feet to his previous best with a fifth-place toss of 162-11 (49.66m).
“Zach is a kid who came out, walked on to the team and has worked very, very hard,” Idaho head track and field coach Julie Taylor said. “He competed well indoors, then he’s doing it again out here today. I love to see that out of a freshman.”
In the men’s discus throw, senior Donavon Cunningham (162-9), junior Joseph Charles in a career-best 158-1, Levkiv (152-5) and Rothwell (149-6) took second through sixth, respectively, to score 20 points for the Vandals.
“I can’t say enough about Joseph Charles and the way he competed today,” Taylor said. “He’s been having some trouble this year, so I was very excited to see him throw that. All of our guys did really well, so I’m very happy with our finishes.”
Junior Kristine Leonard broke through for her first career First-Team All-WAC honor in the shot put. She threw a career-best 48-0.5 (14.64m) to finish third after entering the competition ranked ninth.
Fresh off his decathlon win, senior Andrew Blaser posted a pair of First-Team All-WAC performances on Thursday with a third-place long jump of 22-9 (6.93m) and a third-place high jump of 6-4 (1.93m). Those were key points, especially after the Vandals lost WAC indoor long jump champion Jason Lorentz to a hamstring pull during warm-ups.
Also in the high jump, sophomore Tyler Bennett took fourth after clearing a career-best 6-4 (1.93m) and moved up one spot from his projected finish, as well.
In the women’s javelin, junior Ellen Rouse threw a career-best 147-7 (44.98m) for a third-place finish and her first career First-Team All-WAC honor, while freshman Johanna Hocketstaller took fifth and earned Second-Team honors with a 138-8 (42.28m).
Senior Morgan Dunning capped off her career in her final performance as a Vandal with a height of 11-2.25 (3.41m) and a fifth-place tie in the women’s pole vault for a Second-Team All-WAC award – the first of her career.
On the track, seniors Markus Geiger (31:04.00) and Jeremiah Dubie (31:12.56) put a nice cap on Idaho’s day with second- and third-place finishes, respectively, in the men’s 10,000m to earn First-Team All-WAC honors each.
“That was a key race for us, because a 10k is a very long race and it can be unpredictable,” Phipps said. “We weren’t projecting that many points, so I felt like it was a great way to cap off an already awesome day.”
In the preliminary events of the day, sophomore Cait Rowland posted a career best and a season best and moved on to the finals in two events on the day. She started with a PR 14.70 in the 100m hurdles, then followed it up later with her fastest 400m hurdles time of the year in 1:04.49.
The Vandals also put three people each into the men’s and women’s 800m finals, as junior Jeff Osborn (1:54.25), senior James Clark (1:53.66) and junior Kyle Tylor (1:54.55) qualified on the men’s side and senior Erica Digby (2:13.71), junior Anna Kalbrener (2:12.94) and junior Keli Hall (2:14.18) advanced in the women’s race.
Osborn, Tylor, Kalbrener and freshman Colton Hastings, who took ninth in 1:55.19, all posted career-best times on the day.
“I think those 800s were really indicative of the kind of team we have,” Phipps said. “On the women’s side, we threw a bunch of people in there that we knew were going to double back and they all performed very well. That’s just the way this team is – always battling, always fighting.”
Saturday’s final day of action starts on the field with the women’s hammer at 10 a.m. (PT). The track events start at 3 p.m. with the men’s 4x100m relay. All events on Saturday are finals and team titles will be awarded at the end of the day.
“We really want to score those 200 points (in the men’s race), but the thing is, the final team scores could very well be 202 to 201 or 202 to 199,” Phipps said. “It is going to come down to all those little things and it’s going to be a very exciting day tomorrow.”