The sprinters, throwers and jumpers of CSU’s men’s and women’s track teams have shown what they can do against the best in the nation. Now it is the distance runners’ turn.
On Friday the 5,000- and 10,000-meter distance runners from CSU’s track teams, along with junior pole vaulter Christine Ahn and senior thrower Julie Gunzel, will compete against the best in the nation at the Mount San Antonio College (Mt. SAC) Invitational in Walnut, Calif.
“They call it a distance festival,” said CSU head coach Del Hessel. “It’s a tremendously exciting atmosphere.”
According to Hessel, the main reason the event generates so much excitement among athletes and spectators alike is due to the time of year the event takes place.
“Everybody in the country is reaching their peak and is ready to run fast,” he said. “Everyone there knows everyone else is looking to qualify for nationals.”
The women representing the Rams are junior Kim Leal and sophomore Jen Kintzley (10,000), seniors Liz Roodell and Kelly Schumacher (5,000) and junior Margaret Larsen in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
For the men, senior Josh Lybarger and junior Paul DiGrappa look to make their presence felt in the 10,000, while junior Bill Michel seeks continued successful meets in the 5,000.
According to Hessel, both Leal and Kintzley are ahead of schedule training-wise, while Roodell has been running well all season and should run a “very fast time.”
And though Larsen has not ran a steeplechase yet, Hessel said she should benefit from the shorter races she has ran in prior meets.
As for the men, Hessel said he expects big things from Lybarger, DiGrappa and Michel in their respective events.
“Both Josh and Paul are very fit,” Hessel said. “We’ve been running them in shorter races to improve their speed and it has been very effective.”
While those 10 athletes travel to California, the rest of the team looks to battle the elements at the Ram Invitational Saturday.
“I expect big things in the field events – especially from the throwers – this weekend,” Hessel said. “Though it’s exciting to travel, being at home in your own ring, knowing the atmosphere and elements is something you can take advantage of.” n