|Women first, men second at WAC Indoor Championships|
NAMPA, Idaho - Idaho senior Mykael Bothum destroyed her own school record in the women's shot put to lead the Vandal women to a day-two lead at the Western Athletic Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships on Friday.
Bothum fired the shot 17.20m (56-5.25) to move her to No. 2 in the NCAA in the event and give her the NCAA automatic qualifying standard in the event. She broke her previous school record of 55-4.75 by more than a foot in becoming the back-to-back WAC indoor champion in the event.
With the performance, Bothum became just the third Idaho women in school history to achieve an NCAA indoor automatic qualifying mark. The scariest part, according to Idaho throws coach Julie Taylor, is that Bothum did so without connecting on a perfect throw.
"The thing about that throw - she obviously did some things right, but she can still improve that mark," Taylor said.
The Vandal men got big performances on the day from a number of athletes, but none were bigger than Andrew Blaser's day. The junior competed in the heptathlon on Thursday and Friday morning and finished fourth in the event with a score of 4,111. Just minutes after running the 1,000m to finish the heptathlon, he stepped into the men's high jump, where he cleared a lifetime-best 2.00m (6-6.75) and took second in an upset over a number of higher ranked athletes.
"When I looked up at the heptathlon scores and saw that I got beat out for third by five points, I knew I had to come back and step it up in the high jump," Blaser said. "It was a good feeling to know that I had done what I needed to do to help our team out."
Blaser took a two-hour break, then ran the preliminary round of the men's 60m hurdles and qualified for Saturday's final with a time of 8.28. To cap off his day, he added a one-foot personal best in the men's pole vault by clearing 4.63m (15-2.25) and finishing sixth.
"He's what we need," Idaho co-head coach Wayne Phipps said. "We need people to step up all over the place and that's what he did. He has a huge PR in the multi-event, then comes right back and PRs in the high jump after doing an entire heptathlon, then comes back and scores in the pole vault."
Phipps was also complimentary of senior Mike Carpenter's strong day. Carpenter took second in the heptathlon for the third year in a row with a personal-best score of 5,141, despite only getting in one week of practice to prepare for the seven-event test. He came back after that and tied for third in the men's pole vault with a leap of 4.93m (16-2).
The Vandal men added their first champion of the weekend in the men's pole vault, where sophomore Jeremy Klas staged an upset win over teammate Lucas Pope, as both cleared 5.23m (17-1.75).
"We talked last night about what we wanted to do with this competition," Idaho vaults coach Jason Graham said. "They had to decide if they wanted to do a head-to-head battle or if they just wanted to go for big jumps, and they wanted to go big so we cleared 5.23m to wrap up the competition, and then skipped two heights, went after a height (17-7.75) that we thought would for sure secure a spot in nationals, and we got some really good attempts at it."
After the second day of competition, the Vandal women hold the team lead with 44 points, while Utah State is in second at 34 and New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech are tied for third at 30.
"LA Tech is having a pretty perfect meet and we had some great things and no so great things," Idaho co-head coach Yogi Teevens said. "We're still in great position to finish top three, and that's one of our team goals."
Boise State leads the men's competition at 75.5, but Idaho is second at 66.5, Utah State is third at 39 and Louisiana Tech is fourth at 13.
"We're still in a very good position to win," Phipps said of the men's team. "We don't have the padded lead that I was expecting to have going into Saturday, but there are so many events and most of the points are going to come tomorrow, but we're definitely going to have to be on our 'A' game."
Saturday's action starts at 10 a.m. (PST) with the women's high jump.