Track and field opens strong at UNLV Invitational

Amanda Alston
(Source: Robert Casey)
Weber State University senior Amanda Alston runs in a meet earlier this season. The WSU track and field team set numerous records at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Invitational last week.

After a short break from their indoor season, the Weber State University track and field teams impressed with a strong start to their outdoor season. Both the women’s and the men’s team opened up the season at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Invitational last weekend.

Their impressive performance included a total of 20 Big Sky Conference qualifiers, as the women’s team picked up 15 and the men added five.

“I don’t remember ever having that many qualifiers in the first meet of the season,” said WSU women’s head coach Jim Blaisdell. “So it was a very good weekend. It was ideal conditions, and our team took big-time advantage of that.”

The Wildcats not only qualified, but gave some record-setting performances, a good sign this early in the season.

Jazmin Porter qualified in three different throwing events. Her throw of 180 feet and 3 inches set a new school record in the hammer throw. She also qualified in the shot put and discus.

Porter was not the only thrower to have a good weekend. WSU throwers accounted for seven qualifying marks.

Sophomore Jamie Stokes, trying to fill Amber Henry’s shoes, qualified in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 17:03.71. Freshman Ellie Child and sophomore Alice Keller both qualified in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Child and Keller will both try to continue the Wildcat dominance in the steeplechase, an event that has featured the likes of Henry and Olympian Lindsey Anderson.

The sprinters and hurdlers also had a good meet. Junior Katherine Wishmeyer qualified in the 400-meter run. Freshman Tawnie Moore’s career-best time in the 110-meter hurdles moved her into ninth on the all-time list in the event. Junior Kiersten Watkins qualified in the 400-meter hurdles, and sophomore Katy Hufford achieving a qualifying mark in the long jump.

“I could not be more pleased with the way we started the season,” Blaisdell said. “That is a very, very good meet for us to start the outdoor season.”

The youth of the men’s team once again came through as freshman Seth Fortin continued his impressive season. He qualified in both the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes. Another freshman, Anthony Gregory, qualified in the high jump. He was joined by senior teammate Tyler Burns with a mark of 6 feet, 8 inches.

“It was a really great way to start the outdoor season,” said WSU men’s head coach Dan Walker. “We are going to live and die with our freshmen this season, and today they did very well.”

Junior Jonathan McUne qualified in the 110-meter hurdles in a time of 14.30 seconds, which moved him up to seventh on the all-time fastest times in that event.

“We really put down some good marks this weekend,” Walker said. “Now we’ll go down to Orem next week and see how many of them we can break.”

The Wildcats will return to the track on Friday, when they will travel to Orem to take part in the Utah Valley University Collegiate Invitational.