Feb 242003
Authors: Joshua Pilkington

Like any high-performance vehicle, the athletes of CSU’s men’s and women’s track and field teams needed a tune-up before the big race.

With the Mountain West Conference championship meet on the horizon, the Rams traveled to two separate meets with the throwers going to Laramie, Wyo., to compete in the Wyoming Open while the runners went to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs the site of this weekend’s MWC championships.

“We had some outstanding performances at both meets,” head coach Del Hessel said. “In a lot of ways we wanted to get those athletes who competed at Air Force this weekend acclimated to the track they will compete on next weekend.”

In Laramie a rested group of throwers put together their best meet of the season overall, said throwers coach Brian Bedard.

“This was one of the first meets we were fairly well rested for,” Bedard said. “That gave us a good opportunity to increase our NCAA marks.”

The Rams did more than increase those marks, they annihilated them.

Junior Loree Smith won the women’s weight throw, setting a school record in the process, with a toss of 66 feet, 2 1/2 inches. Smith, senior Hannah Metzler and sophomore Keela Neimeyer, also became the first trio of Rams to break 50 feet in the shot put in the same season with tosses of 51-11 3/4, 50-9 1/4 and 50-1 1/4, respectively.

“Our goal was to have three women over 50 feet this season in the shot put,” Bedard said. “Not many programs can do that, so to do it at one meet was pretty neat to see.”

The performances were equally impressive on the men’s side, as senior Drew Loftin surpassed former Ram Mattias Borrman’s mark of 67-5 1/2 in the weight throw with a toss of 68-8 to set a new school record. Senior Jeremy Graff set a personal best in the event finishing fourth with a toss of 60-4.

In the men’s shot put Graff place second throwing 55-9 3/4, while Nate Heyrman threw a personal-best 53-11 3/4 to finish fourth.

Meanwhile, at Air Force the Rams shook off some rust and got ready for this weekend’s big event.

“This was a good last meet to prepare for conference on the track where we’ll run conference,” assistant coach Tom Flood said. “We had some athletes running to put themselves in position to make the conference team and others getting in a much-needed race.”

For the men the focus was on Senior Eric Hill who, after playing on the Ram’s football team during the fall, has turned his attention to the track and to becoming a conference champion.

Hill, in his first real competition this season, showed little sign of rust in winning the men’s 200-meter dash clocking in at 21.83 seconds and finishing fourth in the 60 meters at 6.93.

Also competing after a long hiatus was Mike Horton who finished fourth in the 60 meter hurdles with a time of 8.15.

“Mike ran great in the hurdles,” Flood said. “He hasn’t competed in four years and he’s still shaking off some rust, but both he and Eric Hill have put themselves in a position to run well at conference.”

On the women’s side, junior Christine Ahn stole the show once again by breaking her school record in the pole vault for the third consecutive week, this time clearing 12-6 1/4 to win the event.

Ram jumpers Cristina Gourdin, Jennifer Higgason and Jill McKenzie also gave strong performances in the high jump clearing 5-5, 5-5 and 5-3, respectively.

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