Apr 042002
 
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The competition is soon to heat up with the non-scoring meets coming to a close for the CSU men’s and women’s track teams.

This Saturday at the University of Northern Colorado’s Cowboy Classic in Greeley, the teams have their last chance to tune up before heading into more serious competition.

Though non-scoring meets do not tend to spark much interest among track fans, head coach Del Hessel said the meets are very important to the athletes and coaches who participate in them.

“These meets are really important to us,” Hessel said. “One advantage of having a non-scoring meet is that it gives us the opportunity to put people in a variety of events that lead up to their main event.”

One of those athletes being placed in a different event is junior distance runner Paul DiGrappa.

Normally a competitor in the 5,000-meter or 10,000-meter runs, DiGrappa heads to UNC this weekend to run in the 800-meter and 1,500-meter runs.

“(Running in different events) gives me the chance to race and feel the competition without doing the same event every week,” DiGrappa said. “It also gives me the chance to build some speed, feel some different competition and it gets me ready for other races.”

DiGrappa was one of several athletes who excelled last weekend at CSU’s Rob Upton Invitational, running a season-best 15 minutes and 17 seconds in the 5,000.

According to Hessel the meet had its ups and downs, but he was impressed with the efforts of several athletes.

“We had quality performances in many events,” Hessel said. “(Senior) Julie Gunzel provisionally qualified for the NCAA Championships in discus and (sophomore) Loree Smith provisionally qualified in shot.”

On the men’s side Hessel said two of the team’s intermediate hurdlers, sophomore Tom Waido and junior Brian Williams, have started the season strong.

Furthermore, Hessel said both the men and the women competing in the 5,000 ran well in the event.

Though still early in the season, Hessel said the team has a good plan in place that should help both the men’s and women’s teams remain competitive for years to come.

After winning the men’s Mountain West Conference title for indoor track in February, Hessel said he and his assistants, coaches Tom Flood, John Carter and Brian Bedard, and decided to redshirt some of the athletes from that team.

“On the men’s side we made the decision to redshirt about 60 points from (the MWC championship) team,” Hessel said. “However, we might recover those points for outdoor in the javelin, hammer and 10,000-meter events.”

On the women’s side, Hessel said the team remains unchanged from the one that finished second to BYU at the conference championships in February.

“I would be very pleased if both the men and women finished in the top two in the conference for the outdoor season,” Hessel said. “We have a plan in place and hopefully it makes us challengers for the Mountain West from year to year.” n

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