Courtesy: Spencer Farrin (Pullman, Wash.)
|Blaser wins Joe Kearney Award|
DENVER – The Western Athletic Conference honored University of Idaho senior track and field athlete Andrew Blaser on Friday with the Joe Kearney Award, annually given to the league’s top male and female student-athlete.
Blaser, a six-time WAC champion and 17-time All-WAC honoree from Boise, Idaho, was voted co-award winner with Utah State football player Robert Turbin. Louisiana Tech track and field athlete Chelsea Hayes was voted as the women’s honoree. Blaser is just the second track and field athlete to win the men’s award in its 21-year history.
In leading Idaho men’s track and field to its first indoor/outdoor conference title sweep since 1997, Blaser won a combined five WAC titles in 2012 and earned 11 First-Team All-WAC honors between the two seasons. He was named WAC Men’s Outstanding Field Performer at both the WAC Indoor and Outdoor Championships and earned the Men’s High Point Award at both meets.
“He came to Idaho as a solid multi-event athlete and turned himself into one of the greatest all-around athletes in the history of the University of Idaho,” Idaho director of track and field/cross country Wayne Phipps said of Blaser. “His motivation to do so came purely from a team standpoint – he wanted to do whatever he could to help Idaho win its first ever men’s WAC title in any sport.”
At the 2012 WAC Indoor Championships, Blaser scored a school-record 40 points with individual wins in the 60m hurdles, high jump and heptathlon, along with third-place finishes in the long jump and pole vault. His efforts led the Vandals to their first men’s WAC title in any sport and their first indoor track and field title since 1997.
For his follow-up act outdoors, Blaser netted 44 points at the WAC Outdoor Championships – the highest point total on record at an outdoor WAC meet, the most in Idaho school history and the most by any individual in the NCAA this year. He won the decathlon and 110m hurdles and finished third in the 400m hurdles, high jump, pole vault and long jump to lead Idaho to an outdoor team title – its first since 2001.
Blaser led a Vandal effort at the meet that saw the team score 219.5 points, which gave Idaho the best single-season conference scoring improvement (+134.17 points) at any level of collegiate track and field, from NAIA through NCAA Division I.
“In my tenure as director of athletics, Andrew is the fiercest competitor I have ever been associated with,” Idaho director of athletics Rob Spear said. “Through sheer will and individual competitiveness, Andrew brought a winning attitude to the University of Idaho track and field program and led the team to two conference titles.”
Aside from his WAC exploits, Blaser was an NCAA qualifier for a second year in a row outdoors in the 110m hurdles and at the NCAA West Preliminary meet in June, he ran two of the three fastest times in his career, advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinal round and missed an NCAA Championship finals berth by a mere .04 seconds.
Blaser ended his career at Idaho as the team’s sixth-highest all-time scorer with 66.33 career outdoor conference points. His 10 outdoor All-WAC honors are the most in school history, as are his seven indoor All-WAC honors. He finished his career ranked second all-time at Idaho in the indoor heptathlon, third in the 60m hurdles, third in the 110m hurdles, fifth in the decathlon and seventh in both the 400m hurdles and pole vault.
In his career, Blaser’s six WAC titles came in five different events and his 17 All-WAC honors came in nine different events.
Blaser graduated from Idaho in May 2012 with his degree in Food and Nutrition. He plans to work as a track and field coach and pursue a graduate degree in Public Health Administration.