|Seven titles for Idaho track and field on Friday|
RUSTON, La. - University of Idaho men's and women's track and field athletes grabbed seven more individual titles on Friday at the Western Athletic Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships, and also added another school record to the mix.
"There have been seven finals and we've won six of them," Idaho co-head coach Yogi Teevens said of the women's team. "We're definitely set up better than we ever have before and there are still a lot of big events to go tomorrow."
Senior Allix Lee-Painter completed an unprecedented double, as she became the first woman in WAC history to win both the 3,000m steeplechase (10:26.18) and the 10,000m (36:16.67) in the same meet. Remarkably, she is the second Vandal to complete the feat, as Letiwe Marakurwa completed the same double at the 2003 Big West Championships.
Like Marakurwa in 2003, Lee-Painter will also compete in the 5,000m on Saturday. Marakurwa wasn't able to complete the distance triple after finishing second in the 5,000m in 2003, but Lee-Painter enters the event with the WAC's top time by nearly 30 seconds.
"Last year, we talked about what we wanted to do at this meet, so it's really been a year or so in the making," Idaho co-head coach Wayne Phipps said of Lee-Painter's distance triple. "We geared our training from last year's indoor season on specifically around this triple, so I had a lot of confidence in her to do that today."
Junior Ulrike Hartz became a double winner for Idaho after taking the women's javelin crown with a toss of 161-5 (49.19m). She also won the women's heptathlon on Thursday. Senior Mykael Bothum grabbed her first career WAC outdoor title in dramatic fashion, as she moved from second to first on her final throw of the competition, a school-record heave of 52-8.25 (16.06m). Senior K.C. Dahlgren also won her first career outdoor WAC title by clearing 12-11.5 (3.95m) to win the event based on fewest misses.
"These kids have been working for this championship for three years," Teevens said. "This is a senior-heavy team, they know they have a legitimate shot and they are not going to go down easily, at all."
Senior James Rogan got things going on the men's side early on with a toss of 217-4 (66.24m) to take the hammer throw title and grab his first career outdoor gold. Sophomore Markus Geiger grabbed his first career WAC gold in the men's 10,000m title in odd fashion. Geiger raced out to a strong lead that was as large as 150 meters at times, but late in the 30-minute-long race, a large lightning storm moved in and forced an early stoppage of the event.
The storm forced a nearly two-hour delay in the meet with just the women's 10,000m remaining. In that event, Idaho went first, fourth, sixth and seventh with Lee-Painter, sophomore Julia Veseth, senior Maike Holthuijzen and senior Melissa McFaddan finishing in that order to score a crucial 20 team points for Idaho.
"Our goal as a distance team is to score 70 points, and that averages out to about 14 points per event, which is pretty tough to do," Phipps said. "To score 20 in one event means a lot to us. We were projecting Allix to finish that way, but for that group behind her to step up the way they did was just fantastic."
The Vandal women go into Saturday's final day of competition with the lead and a team score of 83 points. Idaho's men scored 34 points on the opening day and sit in third place through seven scored events.
"We have to keep going," Teevens said. "It happens to a lot of teams at halftime - we can't be happy with this, let up and relax. We have to keep pushing and fighting for each point."
Saturday's action starts at 10:30 a.m. (PDT) with the men's pole vault and women's hammer throw.