Going into the indoor track and field season, the coaches of CSU’s men’s and women’s track teams knew the teams would need big performances from unlikely sources to succeed.
And that is just what they got.
In their first indoor meet of the season, the Rams dominated the field at the Air Force Invitational in Colorado Springs, winning with 109 points on the men’s side and 183 points on the women’s.
That the Rams won the meet was not too much of a surprise for the team; it was how they won that pleased the coaches.
With sophomore Jacob Benson winning the men’s high jump with a height of 6 feet, 8 3/4 inches and throwers Jeremy Graff (56-5 1/4) and Drew Loftin (54-10) finishing third and fourth, respectively, in the shot put, the Rams managed to get a slew of points from field events while keeping up in track events.
“Overall we really looked well,” said pole-vaulter Josh Horak, whose vault of 16-4 garnered points for the team. “I think from this meet there was a lot of excitement for what is to come in the next couple of meets.”
As the team’s field athletes exceeded expectations, the distance team led the Rams on the track racking up points in almost every event.
In the men’s mile, juniors Joey Alzola and Bill Michel finished fourth and fifth, recording times of 4 minutes, 24.44 seconds and 4:25.27, respectively.
Junior Austin Vigil made some noise in the men’s 3000-meter run finishing third with a time of 8:46.28, while senior Dylan Olchin followed with a seventh place finish at 8:52.52.
The Rams’ best performance, however, came in the men’s 5,000 where the Rams – led by Olchin’s 15:27 – took second, third, fourth and sixth.
For as dominant as the men’s team was, the women’s team was even more so.
The lady Rams more than doubled second-place Wyoming’s 71 points, while taking top spots in nearly every event.
Sophomore sensations Katrice Thomas and Becky Hammit led the way, winning their respective events against stellar competition.
Thomas won the 400 with a time of 57.06, defeating Ingvild Carstens of Wyoming (58.40) by more than a second, while Hammit won the 800 by two seconds with a time of 2:15.56.
The theme of Ram domination didn’t stop there as seniors Meg Larson and Jen Kintzley finished first and second in the women’s 5,000, recording times of 18:46.09 and 18:53.62, respectively, while junior Colleen Blair finished fourth at 18:55.84.
“It was great,” said senior Katie Yemm of the team’s performance. “It shows how strong we are and the potential we have.”
That potential was further demonstrated in the field events where junior Loree Smith and company dominated the field.
Smith, coming off an all-conference 2002 season, won the women’s shot put and weight throw events by a sizable margin with throws of 53-5 and 63-2 1/4, respectively.
Vaulter Christine Ahn also made her presence felt with a third place finish in the women’s pole vault, recording a height of 11-5 3/4.
In an attempt to better emulate the workload and atmosphere of a conference meet, Yemm said the teams’ coaches had almost every athlete compete in more than one event during the two-day invitational.
By winning a big meet while taking on a heavy workload, several members of the team now have high expectations for themselves and their teammates.
“I definitely think we can repeat as conference champs,” Horak said. “Even without some of the guys we’ve lost, I have no doubt we can do it.”
In this short indoor season, the time for the Rams to prove that is rapidly approaching.