|Vandal Indoor produces top marks|
MOSCOW - For the 35th year in a row, a grouping of some of the Northwest's top talent was in the Kibbie Dome for the Vandal Indoor, and the competition was as advertised, with some of the NCAA's top marks on Friday night.
While featured former Vandal Russ Winger was on hand to compete, it was Idaho women's thrower Mykael Bothum who stole the show. On her second attempt of the day, the senior All-American launched the shot 16.88m (55-4.75) to break her own school record and move her to No. 2 in the NCAA in the event.
Bothum's mark was just three-quarters of an inch away from achieving the NCAA automatic standard, but still likely punched her second-straight NCAA ticket with the toss. Her series on the day included three throws farther than 16 meters.
"It just felt really easy," Bothum said. "We've been working really hard in the weight room and in practices, so it's nice to see that it's starting to pay off for everybody."
Winger's day wasn't half-bad, either. The six-time All-American former Vandal, who is now living in Chula Vista, Calif. and training for the 2012 London Olympics at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, won both the men's shot put and indoor discus in typical dominant fashion. He hit 19.75m (64-9.75) in the shot and 59.03m (193-8) in the discus.
Bothum was one of six Idaho champions at the meet, which ranged from freshmen to senior and throws to sprints to jumps. Senior Ben Wood represented Vandal throws with a winning toss of 18.54m (60-10) in the weight throw, while sophomore Jeremy Klas cleared 5.12m (16-9.5) to lead a 1-2-3 Idaho finish in the pole vault and junior Paul Dittmer led an Idaho sweep in the 60m hurdles, as he cruised to a 8.06 in the event after running a 7.94 preliminary time this is tied as the Western Athletic Conference's best.
For the women, sophomore Lauren Schaffer seized control at the start of the women's 800m and never wavered in running a personal-best 2:11.77 - the best time in the conference by more than five seconds - while true freshman Samatha Nielson busted out with a leap of 11.52m (37-9.5) in the women's triple jump.
"I was really excited for Lauren," Idaho co-head coach Wayne Phipps said. "She's such a great competitor and she just took it from the very beginning and ran an great indoor personal best for her."
Senior K.C. Dahlgren finished second to Washington State's Kendall Mays based on attempts, but both vaulters cleared 4.07m (13-4.25) to move into a tie for 17th in the NCAA in the event. The jump is Dahlgren's best of the year and increases her WAC lead in the event to nearly a foot.
Other strong Idaho performances on the day came from juniors Maurice Shaw and Andrew Blaser, who ran personal-bests of 8.13 and 8.23, respectively, and finished second and third in the 60m hurdles. Sophomore Morgan Dunning cleared a personal-best 3.52m (11-6.5) in the women's pole vault to take fifth, while junior Erica Digby ran a season-best 5:04.31 in the women's mile to give her the conference's third-best time.
Vandal football player Princeton McCarty made an impression on the track, as he won the men's 60m dash with a time of 6.88, while fellow Idaho football player Justin Veltung took seventh in the event and ran a 7.01 in the preliminary round.
Washington State led all teams with seven event titles on the day, while Idaho grabbed six, Eastern Washington had four, and Montana, Whitworth and Central Washington had one apiece. Non-collegiate athletes won six titles.
Idaho track and field will be in action again on Saturday morning at the Runners Soul Open, which kicks off at 9 a.m. at the Kibbie Dome and features more than 1,000 entrants from around the region.