Courtesy: Spencer Farrin (Moscow, Idaho)
Kristine Leonard
Vandals take nine titles
Courtesy: Idaho Athletic Media Relations
          Release: 04/29/2012
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MOSCOW, Idaho – University of Idaho track and field claimed nine individual titles and made five record-book entries on Saturday at the Duane Hartman Invitational and made one entry on Sunday at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational.

The Vandal women claimed six of the event victories, while the men posted three. Of the five all-time top-10 entries, three came from the women and two from the men. It was Idaho throws that came up the biggest on the weekend.

Junior Kristine Leonard had a breakout day in the women’s shot put and discus. She won the shot put with a career-best 47-9.75 (14.57m), which ranks ninth all-time at Idaho, then took second and was the top collegian in the discus at 161-11 (49.35m). That toss is third-best in the Western Athletic Conference so far this year and sixth-best all-time at Idaho.

To have two career bests for that meet was huge and it brings a lot of confidence for her,” Idaho head track and field coach Julie Taylor said of Leonard. “Kristine has huge upside, and I know she's going to continue to get better and better. She's a hard-working kid, so it's really rewarding as a coach to see her get that.”

Also in the women’s throws, junior Ellen Rouse led a 1-2 Idaho finish in the women’s javelin with a career-best 147-0 (44.81m), which improves her No. 6 all-time standing in the event. Freshman Johanna Hocketstaller was second at 139-7 (42.55m).

The Vandal men’s javelin pair of sophomore Ugis Svazs and junior Mike Marshall posted the top two collegiate marks at the event and finished second and third overall, both with career bests in the event. Svazs re-took the WAC lead with an 11-foot career best of 227-5 (69.32m), while Marshall followed with a career-best 217-10 (66.39m).

“Ugis had a bit of injury issue last year, but he’s really getting back into the rhythm of throwing,” Taylor said. “He had a really good week of practice and it kind of felt like he had something good building up.”

Svazs’ throw ranks 13th in the West Region and 24th in the NCAA so far this year, while Marshall’s is 24th in the West Region and 45th in the NCAA. The marks are also first and second in the WAC and third and fifth all-time at Idaho, respectively.

“It was a really good field and a really good competition in the men’s javelin,” Taylor said. “There was a lot of energy around the competition, both from our two guys and from everyone else in the field. Everyone was really building off each other and made it a great competition to be a part of.”

At the Payton Jordan Invitational, hosted by Stanford University, senior Stephane Colle finished eighth in his section of the men’s 1500m with a career-best time of 3:47.86. That time is second-best in the WAC so far this season and ranks ninth all-time at Idaho.

“It's his fastest time as a Vandal and I was really happy with the way he ran,” Idaho director of track and field/cross country Wayne Phipps said. “Now the next step is just to find that extra gear in the last 300 to 400 meters and he can make that next jump forward.”

Junior Donavon Cunningham, a fullback, finished spring football two weeks ago and on Saturday, he took over the WAC lead in the men’s discus with a 167-9 (51.14m) to win the event. Decathletes Andrew Blaser, a senior, and Colin Briggs, a junior, also both hit career-best marks in the event at 117-10 (35.93m) and 116-1 (35.38m), respectively.

Sophomore Cait Rowland was a double winner for the Vandal women in the hurdles. She ran a 15.35 in the women’s 100m hurdles, then followed it up with a 1:06.29 to take the 400m hurdles crown. Junior Alyssa Covington won the women’s long jump with a mark of 18-1.75 (5.53m), while senior Gabby Midles hit 183-10 (56.03m) to win the women’s hammer throw.

“You're kind of doing some fine-tuning and it also helps the confidence when you can perform well in the meets leading up to conference,” Phipps said. “I think people are taking advantage of the meets right now and they're performing really well.”

For the men, freshman Ben Ayesu-Attah took the 400m dash in 49.01, senior Rendel Jones won the triple jump with a mark of 45-5 (13.84m) and sophomore Andrey Levkiv won the shot put with a heave of 51-2.75 (15.61m). Sophomore Kyle Rothwell was fourth overall and the top collegiate finisher in the hammer throw at 191-4 (58.31m).

Also among Idaho’s 12 career-best marks at the meet were junior Jeff Osborn, who ran a 1:54.45 in the men’s 800m and freshman Jesse Villines, who posted a 15.86 in the men’s 110m hurdles. For the women, junior Laurel Draper ran a 13-second career best of 11:17.40 in a third-place finish in the 3000m steeplechase and freshman Reba Eggert, a heptathlete, hit personal bests of 15-3.5 (4.66m) in the long jump and 35-11.5 (10.96m) in the shot put.

With the Duane Hartman Invitational in the books, the only thing left on Idaho’s slate before the WAC Championships on May 8-11, is the Vandal Jamboree. The inaugural meet on Idaho’s freshly renovated Dan O’Brien Track & Field Complex will be Friday and Saturday, May 4-5.

We're very excited – a lot of nervous energy, but we're very excited and it will be a neat trial run for us before hosting the WAC Championships,” Phipps said. “There are a lot of positives about hosting and we're very excited for it.”
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