Idaho Vandals 2010 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships Blog
One more day to go
Friday, June 11 (10:30 p.m.)
Well, it's certainly been a wild ride for Idaho here. I just got back from an entertaining dinner listening to Coach Phipps and Coach Graham telling ridiculous stories from when they were roommates way back in the 90s, when Phipps first arrived at Idaho. One true story was that Coach Phipps once peeled and ate 12 Mandarin Oranges in less than 90 seconds. You can't make that stuff up.
Today was a solid day for the Vandals on the track. Beau Whitney had a really good series and ended up 19th, while James Rogan took 22nd. The tough thing for James was that one of his two fouls was a HUGE throw that was barely a sector foul (it went wide). Mykael Bothum took 19th in the shot put at her first career outdoor championship meet. I think all three are probably a bit disappointed that they didn't do a little better, but when you really look at it, each of those events has hundreds of athletes in the NCAA, and each of our kids finished in the top 22 overall in those events, which is a pretty good accomplishment.
I had a chance to chat with Mykael and Eugenio Mannucci (our last competitor...men's shot put on Saturday) about their impending marriage. The two Vandal shot putters will tie the knot on Sep. 11, 2010, in Mykael's hometown of Hermiston, Ore. They're actually one of three engaged couples on the Idaho track and field team this year, interestingly enough. Allix Lee-Painter and Steve Potratz are getting married next month and Ben Wood and AshLee Rey also recently became engaged. I guess that gives the Idaho coaches a good new recruiting edge..."Come to Idaho track and field, win some titles, get your degree, and find the man/woman of your dreams!"
After being a predominantly afternoon-based event so far, we switch to the A.M. tomorrow, and things get started at 9:30 a.m. Eugenio has been throwing pretty well in the shot put the last few weeks, so it would be really cool for him to cap things off with a really big toss tomorrow. Keep checking in on Twitter and hopefully I'll have great things to report!
Really high, then really low
Wednesday, June 9 (5:30 p.m.)
As you've probably already seen in my Wednesday recap, things started really well for Ulrike, as she ran a season-best 13.95 in the 100m hurdles, but just an hour later, hurt her foot in the high jump. Apparently, as she stepped for the final time on her right foot, she felt a pop and a jolt of pain just before planting her left for the take-off. She had a foot injury early on this season, but it was her left foot that was the problem area that time. It was definitely a tough way to end the season, but what a season it was for her. In just one season at Idaho, she inked her name into the Idaho record book SEVEN times (five individual events, two relays), won three WAC titles, broke one school record and earned WAC Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year accolades. Her 29 points at the WAC Outdoor Championships were a big reason why Idaho was strongly in the hunt for the women's team title. She also did a lot of work to help organize the team's second annual free track and field kids camp earlier this year.
First day of competition!
Wednesday, June 9 (9:45 a.m.)
Just got back from a nice breakfast at the hotel (Corn Flakes, waffles, bisquits and gravy...mmm) and now I'm getting ready for the long day of heptathlon action. I'll keep an eye out for more, but so far I can tell that we share a hotel with Western Kentucky and some Hawai`i people. We'll leave for the track at about 11. Yesterday's drive was long and rainy at times, but not too bad overall. I had the chance to chat with James Rogan and Beau Whitney (our men's hammer throw duo) for most of the trip and learn a bit more about the pair. Both are seniors and will be moving on this year. James has already been accepted into a couple law schools and is waiting for word on a couple more, and Beau eventually plans to move to Boise to find some work around there.
In preparation for today's action, I thought I'd give you a bit of an event-by-event preview for the day. Since we just have Ulrike Hartz today, I'll focus on her and the four heptathlon events she'll contest this afternoon:
100m Hurdles: This is actually a pretty strong event for Uli. She was limited earlier this year with a foot injury and missed out on some practice time, so while her 14.37 at the WAC Championships was a solid time, don't be surprised if she bumps a tenth or two off that time (it helps that she's working with one of the premier hurdles coaches in the nation in co-head coach Wayne Phipps, too). A good race here could give her plenty of momentum for the rest of the day.
High Jump: This is an event where she can also make a solid bump. She only cleared 5-3.25 at the WAC meet, but she's gone as high as 5-8.5 in her career. The difference between those two marks is 150 points...which is HUGE at this level when everyone is going to be so close.
Shot Put: I'd be willing to bet that Uli has a top-five shot put in this event. She's gone over 40 feet multiple times this year and could pop off a big throw today. Once you get to the NCAA level, every competitor is at least pretty good in every event, but the shot is one that often isn't the strong suit, so Uli could have a good chance to gain some ground on people here.
200m: Uli ran a PR of 24.29 in this event at the WAC Championships. Whenever you get down to the low 24s and into the 23s......you're moving. It will be a long day and everyone will be winded after the previous three events, but again, I feel pretty good about Uli's ability to come through and compete at the most important times.
Overall: The favorite in this event has to be Oregon's Brianne Theisen. In addition to being on her home track, she comes in with the top score (5,942), but Clemson's Liane Weber (5,928) isn't far behind. From there, 122 points separate Uli's sixth-best mark of 5,601 from third. Beyond that, only 72 points separate the seventh-best entry score from 14th. Expect a very tight competition. One other factor to keep in mind is that it's supposed to rain slightly both today and tomorrow, with highs only in the low 60s. Adrenaline should cancel out any complaints about the weather, but some of these athletes might be taken a little bit out of the their comfort zones by the conditions.
Getting packed and ready to go!
Monday, June 7 (2:15 p.m.)
Hello everyone and welcome to the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships Blog! Half of our traveling group is on the road already, and the other half (myself included) will make the drive to Eugene tomorrow morning. As I do my laundry and pack my bags for the trip, I figured I'd talk about most important thing...equipment. With seven athletes competing in four events (and one athlete's competition being seven events), there's plenty of stuff to bring along on these trips.
Let's start with the shoes. Every athlete will pack in a pair of warm-up/cool-down shoes. Throwers use 'rotational' shoes, which have a slick sole that lets them go through their spins and slides as quickly as possible. Our pole vaulter, Jeremy Klas, has a set of spikes that are made specifically for the vault. They have a more padded middle and heel, along with the spiked front, to accommodate the unique running style in the event (you run a little awkwardly when you're holding a 17-foot-long pole, I guess). Ulrike Hartz must have an entire suitcase for shoes as a heptathlete. She'll have a set of rotationals (for the shot put) and a pair of javelin-specific spikes. She'll wear a pair of high jump spikes (with heavily-padded soles), a different pair in the long jump (more padding in the heel), a pair of distance spikes for the 800m and a sprinter's spike (no heel padding at all) for the 100m hurdles and the 200m.
As far as equipment goes, everyone has a little something to bring. Idaho has custom-made, 18-foot-long pole vault tubes that hold about 10 poles each. Those will make the trip strapped to the roof of the team van. Ulrike's javelin will join the poles on the roof in a smaller, slimmer tube transporter. Each hammer thrower will bring along his or her own specific hammer implement, plus an extra handle and wire or two. They'll also bring a special glove that keeps the hammer from taking chunks of their hand with when they release it. Don't forget the chalk, which is the international standard for keeping your hands dry during competition. Each athlete will also bring competition gear, warm-up gear and casual clothing for their time away from the track.
You might be wondering what a team media representative/photographer brings along to an event like this. I'll pack in my trusty laptop (for writing/posting/sending news releases, editing photos, updating blogs, researching), SLR camera (for taking the cool action photos), compact digital camera (for taking the casual, quick photos), digital voice recorder (for interviews), 8GB flash drive (full of extra photos, PDFs, historical documents and results), cell phone (synched to @Idaho_Vandals on Twitter), printed media guide (for quick historical reference), digital media guide (for the most up-to-date school records and PRs), mini-notebook (so I remember everything that happens), mobile broadband card (because when you've got a hundred media people sharing one wireless connection, it gets SLOW), and finally, a wild assortment of USB cables, chargers, mouse pads and headphones.
Check back all week long as I'll post updates on the Idaho team, both on and off the track. Also, check out http://twitter.com/Idaho_Vandals for up-to-the-minute updates all week long.