The CSU outdoor track and field season is now in full swing, and the athletes from both the men and women’s teams are ready to step it up a notch.
Having dominated the competition in regional meets during the past month, the Rams will take on a deeper field of competitors Saturday in Tempe, Ariz., at the Sun Angel Classic.
“This is the best collegiate meet out there besides the NCAA Championships,” said assistant coach Tom Flood. “The top collegiate athletes will be competing in almost every event.”
According to assistant coach Brian Bedard, the workload the athletes have endured during the past few months has prepared them to do battle against the slew of nationally ranked athletes competing in the meet.
“They’re excited to be pushed to compete by a higher level of competition,” Bedard said. “If you’re a good competitor you can rise to the occasion.”
There are several athletes from both teams who have the opportunity to show what they can do against the nation’s best, Flood said.
On the men’s side, sophomore sprinter John Woods, who is coming off a three-week hiatus, should perform well in the men’s 100- and 200-meter dashes, Flood said.
He added that sophomore hurdler Tom Waido and senior sprinter Thal Woods continue to put together excellent performances every week.
“Tom leads the conference in the 110-meter hurdles, and I’m excited to see Thal continue to compete,” Flood said.
On the women’s side, Flood said one athlete stands out in particular: freshman sprinter Katrice Thomas.
“Katrice is a freshman with unlimited potential,” he said. “I see her improving every week.”
According to Bedard, the men and women’s field teams should also make some noise during the meet.
“We have a lot of athletes that have been performing well this year,” he said. “They need a meet like this for the competition.”
Bedard mentioned throwers Jeremy Graff (junior) and Adam Trainor (sophomore) from the men’s side who should have a positive impact in Tempe.
As for the women, Bedard said junior Hannah Metzler, sophomore Loree Smith and senior Julie Gunzel have all put together great seasons up to this point.
“Hannah is working on getting her form back, and we’re expecting big things from her down the road,” Bedard said. “Loree has qualified provisionally (for the NCAA Championships) in the hammer (throw) and shot (put), and Julie is probably in the top five in the country in discus.”
Apart from the sprinters and throwers, the Rams also take a strong team of jumpers and middle-distance runners to compete against the nation’s best.
Led by senior 800-meter runner Rob Vermillion and sophomore distance runner Bill Michel, the men’s team has two of the top mid-distance competitors in the nation.
For the women, junior Meg Larson and senior Liz Roodell lead a string of talented middle-distance runners to Tempe.
With only a few more weeks to train for the conference championship meet May 15 to 18, Hessel said the teams need to be ready.
“Looking down the road, we don’t have a day to waste,” he said. “We’ve been working extremely hard in all events, and we need to keep that momentum going for upcoming meets.” n