The time has come for CSU’s men’s and women’s track and field teams to prove they belong atop the Mountain West Conference, and Saturday they did just that.
Saturday, the teams split with a group heading to Ames, Iowa to compete in the Iowa State Classic while others went to Golden to compete at the Colorado School of Mines.
In Iowa, the Rams got strong performances from their middle-distance, distance and throwers, including a couple of provisional qualifying performances from junior Loree Smith and senior Hannah Metzler in the shot put and an NCAA provisional qualifying time of 11 minutes, 24 seconds from the women’s distance medley relay team of Katrice Thomas, Becky Hammitt, Anya Sawyer and Katie Yemm.
“Our (distance medley relay) went really well,” Yemm said. “We placed third and got a provisional qualifying time.”
Yemm and Sawyer also competed in the mile finishing fifth and 14th, respectively, though Yemm said the medley relay took something away from her mile.
“I was tired because of the DMR,” Yemm said. “But I still felt good about the effort.”
Sophomores Thomas and Hammitt also put together strong performances in their respective events. Thomas ran a personal-best 56.09 while finishing 10th in the 400-meter dash and Hammitt ran a personal-best 2:11.46 while finishing eighth overall.
For the throwers the story was, once again, Smith and Metzler, who finished third and fourth respectively in the shot put.
“I think we competed fairly well especially on the women’s side,” said throwers coach Brian Bedard. “I think Loree or Hannah could have won the shot put, but they got passed late and didn’t respond.”
Smith also won the women’s weight throw in a performance Bedard called dominant.
On the men’s side Bedard said he was not as impressed with the effort of his throwers Drew Loftin and Jeremy Graff who placed eighth and 11th, respectively, in the shot put.
“I thought our intensity could have been better in the men’s shot,” Bedard said. “We looked flat. I know we can do better than that.”
Meanwhile, sophomore Jacob Benson continued a string of excellent jumps, finishing ninth in the triple jump with a leap of 48 feet, six inches.
On the track a pair of resurgent performances from juniors Mike Nicks and Bill Michel left head coach Del Hessel impressed.
Having spent a good part of the winter recovering from fatigue and injuries, Nicks ran a personal-best 4:08.66 in the mile while Michel, who had been struggling to put together a strong race, ran a personal-best 8:13.76 in the 3,000 meters.
“Bill Michel and Mike Nicks ran very well,” Hessel said. “Both set big personal records for themselves. They showed tremendous improvement.”
In Golden, the Rams competed strong in almost every event getting especially notable performances from a pair of unheralded athletes: juniors Christine Ahn and Brandon Kent.
Ahn took the poll vault clearing a school record height of 12-6, while Kent completed an impressive double by winning the 400 in 50.17 and the 200 in 22.91.
“Across the board we had good performances that we can build on,” said assistant coach Tom Flood who was with the team in Golden. “Brandon’s performance should put him in position to be all-conference in the 400.”
With both teams competing well in different meets, Hessel said the feeling among the athletes and coaches is that the Rams should be ready to put up a fight at the Mountain West Conference Championship meet at the Air Force Academy Feb. 27-Mar. 1.
“I think we’re progressing nicely,” Hessel said. “With conference in two weeks, I’d say we’re right where we should be.”