The Mountain West Conference championships for indoor track and field are so close the Rams can almost taste it.
But before they get to test their mettle against the best of the Mountain West, the Rams are competing in two open meets this weekend.
CSU will split its team up and send the runners and jumpers to Colorado Springs to take part in the Air Force open, while the throwers head north to compete against Wyoming.
“We were invited to go and compete against Wyoming this weekend,” throwing coach Brian Bedard said. “We’ve been down to Air Force a few times already and one of the times we had a flat run. So I think it will just be better for us to go up to Wyoming.”
This will be the third time the Rams have competed in Colorado Springs this season, and they will be going there again for the conference championships beginning Thursday.
An open meet means there is no point scoring system and the meet is open to all competition.
“Both the meets are basically open to anyone that’s interested in track and field,” head coach Del Hessel said. “It’s going to be an opportunity for the athletes to go for their personal bests.”
For the Rams, those personal bests are very high. Jacob Benson broke the 35-year old school record for the triple jump this season with a measurement of 52 feet, 2 1/4 inches which he managed two weeks ago at the Air Force Academy. His feat puts him 25th in the nation for the event and provisionally qualified him for the NCAA championship.
Hessel’s team is not only using this event as a tool to get ready for the conference championships, but also to prepare for the NCAA championship two weeks later on March 3.
“This is just a meet to keep us in tune and focused for next week,” Hessel said. “We’re not putting any pressure on anyone and we’re not putting in anyone that we are concerned with (getting injured).”
With the runners and jumpers trying to keep sharp at Air Force, the throwers are trying to secure places in the NCAA championship at Wyoming.
“We’re trying to move athletes up the list of provisional qualifiers,” Bedard said. “We’re also trying to get athletes on the list.”
This will be the second time in as many weeks that the squad has split up to attend different meets.
Last week the top athletes went to Ames, Iowa, while those who didn’t make it to Iowa State went to Golden to take part in the Colorado School of Mines All-Comers meet. That meet was separated by ability, this one is separated by events.
“We have so many different agendas that it’s pretty common at this point in the season to split up,” Bedard said. “We had some team meets earlier in the season and those were important. Now there’s no scoring so it’s more of an individual thing.”