Courtesy: Spencer Farrin (Moscow, Idaho)
Lauren Schaffer broke the Idaho record in the 600m.
T&F breaks records in opener
Courtesy: Idaho Athletic Media Relations
          Release: 01/12/2013
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MOSCOW, Idaho – It didn’t quite have the feel of a season-opening meet for University of Idaho track and field on Saturday at the WSU Open, where two Vandals set records and Idaho claimed three more event wins.

Idaho senior Lauren Schaffer took a step down from her premier event, the 800 meters, and rolled to a victory in the women’s 600-meter run with a time of 1:34.35, which converts to a school-record 1:33.19 for track size adjustment. The previous school record of 1:33.9 was set in 1982 by Allison Falkenberg-Ryan.

“That was a real solid race for Lauren,” Idaho director of track and field/cross country Wayne Phipps said. “I think this is the most fit she’s ever been coming out of Christmas break, so I’m really excited to see what Lauren can do this season.”

On the men’s side, sophomores Ben Ayesu-Attah and Andrew Bloom provided the highlight finish of the day in the 400-meter dash. Ayesu-Attah broke his own meet record from a year ago with a time of 48.69, while Bloom was right on his heels at 48.74. Both runners tallied indoor career bests in the race and both eclipsed Ayesu-Attah’s previous record of 49.75 by more than a full second.

The two 400-meter times also rank first and second, respectively, in the Western Athletic Conference.

“This is another huge step forward for both of those guys,” Phipps said. “That was an overall indoor and outdoor career best for Bloom and an indoor best for Ben, without them really having any 400-meter-specific work yet, so that makes it even more impressive.”

In the women’s shot put, senior Kristine Leonard and sophomore Johanna Hocketstaller were separated by just one centimeter going into the final round before Hocketstaller pulled away with an indoor career-best heave of 47-0.75 (14.34m). Leonard tallied an indoor career best of her own with a second-place toss of 46-7.5 (14.21m)

Phipps said he was particularly impressed with the way the team’s young competitors opened up their season in which many were competing for the first time at the collegiate level.

“Our freshman group was awesome today,” Phipps said. “They were nervous, but everyone is in their first meet. There was no apprehension, whether it was our freshman vaulters, our 400-meter guys or our distance guys. That’s a difficult thing to do in your first collegiate meet.”

First-year Vandal Drew Thompson took second in the high jump at 6-4.75 (1.95m) and added a fourth-place time of 8.65 in the 60m hurdles. Nathan Stark took second in the 600m at 1:25.08, while Tyler Jaszkowiak finished fourth in the race at 1:26.42 and Noel Hathaway was seventh in 1:27.99.

In the men’s 400m dash, freshmen Blake Gerling (51.25) and Ian Middleton (51.63) took fifth and seventh, respectively. For the women, freshmen Jerrica Hauck (11-0.75, 3.37m) and Alexys Martens (10-0.75, 3.07m) took second and third in the pole vault.

Also for the Vandals, sophomore Matt Sullivan cleared 15-9 (4.80m) to tie for second in the men’s pole vault and senior Mercedes Blackwood (8.17) edged sophomore Allee Cooper (8.18) for second place in the women’s 60m dash.

Next up on the docket for Vandal track and field is next week’s home meets on Saturday and Sunday. The team hosts the Idaho Collegiate I on Saturday, starting at 8 a.m., and then the Idaho Open I on Sunday, starting at 9 a.m.

Phipps said he plans to bring more of the team into action next weekend after less than half the squad competed in the opening weekend. He said the biggest key for the first few weeks of the year is to get back into competitive form and build the racing mindset.

“It’s about getting the rust off and getting back into racing,” Phipps said. “Other than our cross country kids, most of these guys haven’t competed for a few months. Learning to compete and try to make that transition from practice into competition is an important step, not just for the freshmen, it’s important for the returners, too.”
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