Feb 262006

For the first time in the history of the Mountain West Conference, a team other than BYU won the women's indoor track and field conference championship when CSU narrowly escaped with victory this past Saturday.

"This is probably, truly, the highlight of my coaching career," said head coach Del Hessel in a CSU athletic press release. "I have had many, many great athletes in my career, but this was a complete team effort and was certainly a thrill."

Entering the final event, the CSU women trailed BYU by only a point. The mile relay team comprised of juniors Megan Fox, Janay DeLoach and sophomores Rebekah Yetzer and Emily Pearson would have to win the race in order to win the championship. Not wanting to finish second to BYU for a third consecutive year, the foursome went on to set a school record on their way to securing the championship.

But the dramatic finale would not have been possible without strong performances on the first two days of the meet.

"It was a complete team effort. We were 100 percent effort in everything we did," Hessel stated in the release.

Senior Nicole Feest set a Mountain West Conference Championship record on her way to winning the 5,000-meter run, destroying the previous record by almost 15 seconds.

Before her contribution in the mile relay, Janay Deloach won the women's long jump and set a school record in the preliminaries of the 60-meter dash before taking third in the finals.

Although the men's second-place finish is not where they wanted to end up, there were still a number of strong performances in multiple events.

Junior Rob Watson set a track record on his way toward winning the 5,000-meter run. Junior Kevin Johnson finished third overall in the heptathlon, but his strong effort extended his indoor season by helping him qualify for the NCAA Championships. Also, senior Justin Hazard took victory in the 60-meters with a photo finish.

CSU's men dominated the throwing competitions, claiming the top five spots in the men's weight throw competition; an accomplishment unprecedented in Mountain West Conference Championship history. Senior Nate Heyrman won the event, followed by junior Trey Eder, senior Jace Rivera and sophomores Jason Schultz and Alex Godell.

Nate Heyrman got his second victory of the meet in the shot put. Senior Matt McKinney took second in the event, while Trey Eder completed the sweep for the Rams.

Despite some individuals' success over the weekend, in the press release coach Hessel reflected how proud he was of the whole team.

"In a meet like this, it is impossible to pick an individual to highlight because all of them were heroes."

Rams not yet in the NCAA Championships will have one final chance to qualify this week in the Air Force Last Chance Qualifier or the one in South Bend, Ind. The NCAA indoor track and field championships will start on March 10 in Fayetteville, Ark.

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