The track and field team will step out of character this weekend and send its team of more than 100 athletes to three different meets across the country.
Most athletes will participate in a home meet on the CSU campus in the Rob Upton Invitational at Jack Christiansen Track, while the other athletes are set to compete at the Arizona State Invitational in Tempe, Ariz., and the Stanford Track and Field Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif.
Around 50 athletes will host the Rob Upton Invitational in the first of four home meets in the outdoor track and field season. The name of the meet comes from former CSU sophomore thrower Robinson Upton, who died in a rock-climbing accident in 1992.
To compete at home is a rare and special situation for athletes. Head coach Bryan Bedard said that competing at home will give the community of Fort Collins, family of the athletes and alumni an opportunity to come and see the team compete in a real meet.
Ian Lettow, a sophomore thrower from Arvada, said his parents are coming to see him compete at the college level. After a rough indoor season, Lettow is ready to get a fresh start in the outdoor season.
“It is finally nice to get outdoors . the outdoor (season) is a whole new feel; it is more fun with the hammer and the warm spring time,” Lettow said.
CSU will also send 23 athletes down to face the Sun Devils of Arizona State this Friday and Saturday. The meet at ASU will have more teams and higher level of competition than the CSU meet.
“It will be a challenge for the athletes out there,” Bedard said. “(ASU is) a good opportunity for our athletes early in the season with warmer weather and higher competition.”
Bedard said that a goal for the team is for some of the athletes to make regional qualifying marks this early in the outdoor season.
The final set of athletes will be a small group of 6 or 7 long distance runners, set to compete in a 10-kilometer race hosted by Stanford. Stanford is a more strategic location to run the six-mile event, as the altitude is lower, the weather is cooler ad the facilities are well-known to be runner friendly, Bedard said.
Splitting the entire track and field team is uncharacteristic of the program, but the coaching staff made an exception for this weekend.
“It is typical for (CSU) not to stretch our team so much, but we feel it is in the best interest of the athletes to make this happen,” Bedard said.
Track and field beat writer Scott Callahan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.