|Three more golds for Idaho|
NAMPA, Idaho - University of Idaho track and field claimed three more individual titles and junior Markus Geiger was named top track performer Saturday, the final day of the Western Athletic Conference Indoor Championships, at Jackson Indoor Track.
Idaho head coach Wayne Phipps said earlier this week that this meet would be a good early test for the young Vandal teams. Consider the WAC Men's Track Performer of the Meet, five individual titles, one relay gold, eight first-team all-WAC honors and 11 second-team honors a passing grade.
"I thought we had some really good individual performances," Phipps said. "I was really impressed by the way we competed. I don't know if it could have gone much better for us.
"If we compete like this when we have a full team there, we're going to be a pretty tough team to beat."
Fresh off his title-winning performance in the 5,000m on Friday, Vandal junior Markus Geiger earned a runner-up finish in the men's 3,000m on Saturday with a career-best time of 8:27.25. His efforts were rewarded with the WAC Men's Co-Track Performer of the Year Award - the first of his career.
"He wasn't ranked to be in the top two in the 3k or the 5k coming in, but he looked fantastic in the 5k and just battled the guy to the finish in the 3k," Phipps said. "It was an amazing performance to win the 5k, then to come right back and run so well in the 3k."
The honor gives Geiger three total individual year-end WAC awards in his career. He was the WAC Freshman of the Year in cross country in 2008 and indoor track and field in 2009.
Vandal newcomers Liga Velvere and Hannah Kiser added a second gold medal each on Saturday, while junior Jeremy Klas won his second-consecutive indoor pole vault title. Velvere, a sophomore, cruised to a women's 800m victory, while Kiser held serve in the 3000m. Both women also earned gold on Friday in the distance medley relay.
"For only having run a couple 800s, she's doing amazingly well," Phipps said of Velvere. "She ran very intelligently, she stayed on the leader until about 100 meters to go, then took off and really won quite easily."
Kiser, a true freshman from Wenatchee, Wash., led the women's distance medley relay to a dramatic, come-from-behind finish on Friday, then powered her way to her first career individual WAC title in the 3k with a time of 9:53.78. She posted the top freshman performance at the meet, as the only frosh woman to win two titles and the only to earn two first-team all-WAC honors.
"It's hard for me to remember a more tenacious competitor, especially as a freshman," Phipps said of Kiser. "If we had wanted, we probably could have loaded her up in two or three events and she could have won them all. She just did everything you could ever ask, not just from a freshman, but from any runner."
Klas cleared 17-1 (5.21m) and won the men's pole vault by nearly a full foot. After sweeping the men's indoor and outdoor pole vault titles last season, he has now won three in a row overall. The victory also stretches Idaho's win streak in the event to four straight indoor titles.
Even more impressive for Klas was that he competed so well while not being at 100 percent. He wasn't able to practice fully and spent most of the trip in bed after coming up ill early in the week.
Redshirt freshman Kyle Rothwell earned his second all-WAC honor of the weekend with his fifth-place finish in the weight throw at 51-11.25 (15.83m), added to his sixth-place showing in the shot put on Friday. Junior Jeremiah Dubie and sophomore Colin Briggs were also double-honorees for Idaho over the weekend.
Dubie claimed fifth in the men's 3,000m in 8:32.97 on Saturday, to go with his fifth-place 5k finish on Friday. Briggs posted a career-best 46-7.5 (14.21m) in the triple jump for fifth place on Saturday after taking sixth in the long jump on Friday.
For the women, sophomore Kristine Leonard was the team's lone second-team honoree on Saturday after her sixth-place finish in the shot put at 44-7 (13.59m).
Idaho's men posted a fourth-place team finish with 69 points, while the women were eighth with 44 team points. With a number of redshirts and athletes with no indoor eligibility remaining, Idaho competed without full squads on either side.
The conference season is over, but there's still a couple meets to go this indoor season. Klas has likely booked his second-consecutive NCAA Championships trip in the pole vault, but a handful of other Vandals will get their chance to improve their national meet chances at next week's Husky Last Chance meet at Seattle, Wash.