Track and field qualifies six more for championships

(Source: Weber State Athletics)
Weber State University sophomore Alexandria Van Halder jumps a hurdle in a race earlier this season. WSU’s track and field teams qualified six runners for the Big Sky Championships last week.

The Weber State University men’s and women’s track and field teams took to the road to conquer and divide on Friday and Saturday. Some members competed in Montana, while others were in Iowa. The teams combined to pick up six more qualifiers for the Big Sky Championships later this month.

While a majority of the athletes participated in Montana State University’s Bozeman Running Company Dual Meet, others went to the Iowa State University Classic. The coaches said they were impressed with the effort all the athletes once again put in, and that the team seems to be peaking at the right time of the season.

“Again, we are progressing slowly but surely,” said WSU women’s head coach Jim Blaisdell. “With one week to go before the Big Sky meet, we are pretty much where we want to be, getting better every week.”

The women’s team picked up four of the qualifiers. Two of them came in the mile. Ellie Child and Alice Keller both ran under the mark in a competitive race. Meanwhile, both Katherine Wishmeyer, in the 400-meter dash, and Katy Hufford, in the long jump, cemented their places for the championship meet.

Another notable performance was that of the reigning Big Sky Runner of the Week, Amber Henry, who competed in the 3,000-meter run  at ISU. She completed the run in nine minutes and 22.24 seconds, the top time in conference this year for the 3,000-meter and mile runs.

Brittie Sylvester set a new school record in the weight throw with a mark of 59 feet. The record she broke was only set two weeks ago by Natasha Powell. Jamie Stokes put in another solid performance, participating at the ISU Classic with Henry. She ran 4:50.98, which moves her up to fourth all-time, and was almost two seconds faster than she ran earlier in the season.

The men’s team also saw solid performances from many runners. Tyler Robinson, in the 3,000-meter, and Joe Maloney, in the mile run, both qualified with their times. Robinson also qualified for the 3,000-meter due to his time.

“We continue to improve,” said WSU men’s head coach Dan Walker. “It’s fun to see kids competing as hard as they are competing every week. We are definitely getting better.”

The Wildcats dominated the springs. Seth Fortin won both the 55- and 200-meter dashes, while Johnathan McUre won the 55-meter hurdles. Isaac Akers won the 400-meter dash, while Stetson Smith had another impressive win in the 800-meter run.

In the field events, Anthony Gregory got the best of the other competitors in the high jump. The Wildcats achieved 17 seasonal bests in all, a good sign for them as the conference approaches.

Trevor Ricks participated at the ISU Classic in the mile field, which included seven runners who ran under the highly sought-after sub-four-minute mile. Ricks finished the race with a time of 4:80.80, which left him just off the top 10 all-time performances.

The teams will now travel to Pocatello, Idaho, where they will take part in the Big Sky Indoor Track and Field Championships. The meet will run from Feb. 27 to March 1.