Not even a record-setting storm can stop CSU’s men’s and women’s track teams from hosting their first outdoor track meet of the season.
A week ago the chances of the Rams hosting Saturday’s Rob Upton Invitational seemed remote; but thanks to an effort from the team’s athletes to clear the track of snow, the meet is on.
The events are set to begin at 9 a.m. with the men’s hammer throw and women’s shot put. Track events are slated to start at 11:45 a.m. with the women’s 5,000-meter run.
“I learned that we have a lot of dedicated athletes,” said coach Del Hessel of his team’s effort to clear the track. “Everyone – sprinters, throwers, hurdlers, jumpers, distance – was out there shoveling. … It was a great team effort.”
That the Rams are able to compete this weekend is important for the team, Hessel said, since they could not travel to Albuquerque, N.M., last weekend for what would have been their first meet of the outdoor season.
“I think anytime you miss a meet it delays the start of the whole season,” Hessel said. “We have to get some work in, in these first two meets. We can’t afford to miss another meet.”
Though the delay to the season is a setback, several of the athletes said it shouldn’t affect the team.
“I don’t think (the delay) will hurt us,” said sophomore Becky Hammitt, who will compete in the women’s 1,500- and 400-meter runs and the 4×400-meter relay Saturday. “We’ve been training hard through (the storm). It would have been nice to race, but everyone has been practicing hard in the meantime.”
The Rams plan to use the meet to gauge where they stand physically as they prepare for more difficult meets later in the season, Hessel said.
“We’re going to put people in a lot of different events,” he said. “Some athletes will be in two or three events and we’re going to be practicing hard right through the weekend.”
The weather may have had the greatest affect on the team’s throwers, who have been forced to practice indoors.
“Not being outside definitely has an affect,” said senior thrower Brian Trainor. “You just have to do what you can inside to prepare. Mentally you just have to try to pretend like you’re out there throwing. Hopefully we can throw outside this weekend.”
According to Hessel, all the events will take place as scheduled outdoors with the exception of the pole vault, which will take place indoors at the South College Fieldhouse.
Aside from the prospects of finally being able to compete, the Rams also received good news with the return of All-Mountain West Conference sprinter John Woods, who missed the indoor season with a sore Achilles tendon.
“This weekend I’m just looking to get through the whole meet and test my foot,” Woods said. “I just want to get through everything without pain.”
With the return of several athletes to both teams, Woods said he expects the Rams to compete and win this season.
“We could have won conference indoor,” he said. “If everything goes as it should, we should have a good shot at winning conference.”