Jan 222004
 
Authors: John Teten

Sports fans beware: CSU track and field is off and running. The

indoor season commences on Saturday at the Air Force Invitational

in Colorado Springs.

The Rams enter confident as the defending champion and winner of

six of the last seven Air Force Invites. The season opening meet

provides an experimental glimpse of what to expect from conference

rivals this year.

“It’s the first chance to see who recruited what,” head coach

Del Hessel said. “The talent is still up in the air.”

Mountain West foes Brigham Young, Air Force, Wyoming and New

Mexico along with outsiders Colorado, Utah State and Wichita State

will challenge the green and gold this weekend.

While many teams scramble to reassemble a team ready for

competition, the Rams return a solid core of outstanding

athletes.

CSU returns nine All-MWC team members and four conference

champions on a talent-loaded squad. Two of the four conference

champions, Becky Hammit (800-meter champ) and Loree Smith (shot put

and weight throw), will not compete in the indoor season. The other

two champs, senior Dylan Olchin (men’s 5,000) and junior Jake

Simpson (60-meter dash), lead a talented men’s team.

Alongside the returning leadership, freshmen Magnus Lohse and

Drew Moreno add the flair of young talent to a stacked men’s

team.

“We’re quite good,” Hessel said of the men’s team. “As strong as

we’ve ever been.”

The Rams, Air Force and BYU each bring strong teams to the MWC

and the rising talent on the New Mexico and San Diego State teams

should “make for a much more competitive conference,” Hessel

said.

The women arrive in 2004 with enough potential to make noise

within the conference but with expectations that reach into next

year.

“We’re young, we may have to wait a year to evolve,” Hessel

said. “We’re spoiled to say we’re not sure how good we are, but

someone always surprises you and makes you say ‘Holy Cow!'”

The skills are present, but only time can produce

experience.

As the track season begins, the Rams will try to keep their

focus on the horizon. Each meet builds toward the culmination of

the conference and national championships.

Saturday the Rams begin their journey

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