CSU’s women’s track and field team will go for their second conference championship of the year at the Mountain West Championships Wednesday.
The Rams won the indoor conference championships in February, narrowly taking the championship by winning the final event. Matching that title may prove to be even more difficult than it was winning.
“We’re a bit shorthanded on the women’s side,” said head coach Del Hessel, who is coaching in the final meet of his career. “There have been some injuries and some red-shirts, so I think right now we’re 38 or 40 points short of the team that won the indoor championship.”
Hessel was partially referring to the red-shirting of junior Janay Deloach. CSU will miss Deloach in the long jump and 60-meters, both events in which Deloach was all-conference in the indoor season. Hessel remains confident in the team despite the absence of Deloach.
“We’ll just have to make up the points, that’s all we can do,” Hessel said. “Younger athletes have been stepping in and performing well all season, so I think we can definitely still win.”
Hessel’s confidence is boosted by seniors Katie Hansen and Jill McCormick, as they have been winning throwing events all season long, while junior Katie Lloyd has shown steady improvement in a number of events. Hessel also said he likes the potential he sees in the younger women on the squad.
“Kristen Hemphill has done well all year in the steeplechase, Danielle Korb and Heather Loseke have done well in middle distance events, and our younger long distance runners are starting to come into their own,” Hessel said.
While a younger women’s squad is set to defend their title, Hessel is excited to see what the men can do this week.
“Our men’s squad has lots of experience in lots of events. They’re probably in a little better position to win the Mountain West,” Hessel said.
Throughout the year, CSU’s male throwers have matched the performances of their female counterparts. They have swept the top three spots of throwing events several times during the season.
Along with the throwers, several other male athletes look to contend. Junior Drew Morano has proven to be one of the best sprinters in the conference, while junior Kevin Johnson has excelled in multiple events and junior Justin Hazzard has several victories in hurdle events. The men also have the motivation of losing the indoor conference championship by only four points in February.
“I think we have a good chance of winning on both sides,” Hessel said. “That’s not to say I don’t think it will be difficult, I’m just very confident in the athletes we have here.”