CSU will host its final and largest home track meet of the year Saturday, the Jack Christiansen Invitational. Major schools from around the region such as Colorado, Air Force and Wyoming will compete, as well as smaller schools like the Colorado School of Mines and Nebraska’s Chadron State.
“This is our largest home meet of the year,” said assistant coach Brian Bedard. “We have lots of schools coming this year; many are bringing their entire squad, so there should be some good performances.”
Speaking of good performances, last week senior Matt McKinney set a personal-best mark in the shot put, as well as a season-best mark in the discus. His performance was strong enough to earn him the Mountain West Conference’s Athlete of the Week honors.
While McKinney was proud of his accomplishment, he is already looking toward the feature.
“I’ve been working hard, but I am still not where I want to be,” McKinney said. “Coach Bedard and I have been working a lot together, and I couldn’t have done it without him.”
Aside from McKinney’s performance, Bedard has been impressed with the team as a whole so far this season.
“We’ve had a lot of people qualify for regionals,” he said. “That’s one of our goals – to qualify for regionals, perform well, and move onto nationals.”
But before anyone goes to the NCAA championships, they have to take care of business at the Christiansen Invitational. The meet is named after CSU alumnus and NFL hall-of-famer Jack Christiansen, who died of cancer in June 1986.
Christiansen was a two-sport star at CSU when it was known as Colorado A&M, excelling in both football and track and field. Drafted by the Detroit Lions, some credit Christiansen with reinventing the defensive backfield and the concept of punt coverage.
While this week’s meet pays tribute to the former CSU track & field star, current coaches have been working hard on securing the next generation. On Wednesday, CSU announced the signing of two more athletes that will enroll in the fall.
Kristen Kugler of New Raymer, Colo. and Sarah Manuel of Rye, Colo. will be the latest additions to CSU’s multi-event stable of athletes. Kugler was a three-sport athlete at Sterling High School, lettering four times each in volleyball, basketball and track and field.
The Rams’ other signee, Sarah Manuel, was last year’s high school state champion in the 100-meter hurdles, but will be a multi-event athlete here.
As far as this weekend goes, McKinney is excited to take part in a home meet. His former school, Southern Methodist University, did not have a home track.
“This is only my second home meet of my career, and I am ready to perform,” McKinney said.
Field events will start at 9 a.m. on Saturday, and running events will start around 11 a.m. The meet will be held at the Jack Christiansen Memorial Track on the southeast side of campus.
Drew Gonzales can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.