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Sports / Recreation

Indoor track ready for Mountain West championships

February 26, 2009

The Colorado State indoor track team doesn't have to go far for the Mountain West Conference championships on Thursday, just travelling a couple of hours down I-25 to the familiar confines of the Air Force Academy.

Tanesha JohnsonLooking to improve

The Rams are certainly accustomed to the Cadet Field House, having been there twice this season already. CSU is looking to improve on a second-place finish by the women’s team and a fifth-place finish by the men last season.

The Rams feature 20 returnees who scored in at least one individual event last season and 19 athletes that won at least one event this season. CSU is led by defending champions Allison Gohl and Kristen Hemphill, along with senior throwers Missy Faubus and Alex Godell, both provisional NCAA qualifiers.

Tough competition

The Rams expect to face a stiff test from several teams, especially Brigham Young and reigning women’s champ TCU. The Cougars have routinely been dominant in MWC track and field, winning all but three indoor team championships in the 10 years of the conference. CSU has broken through twice, with the men winning in 2002 and the women in 2006, and CSU Head Coach Brian Bedard feels that the Rams can have similar success if they are able to focus on themselves.

“BYU has an outstanding history and I think they have put together two of the best teams that I have seen this year,” said Bedard. “We just have to go in and do the best we can. We have to be aggressive and ready to perform and compete like the Rams we are.”

Personal bests

Bedard especially wants his team to focus on setting personal bests and to not worry about where it is seeded or what its competition may run.

“It helps the athletes to stay focused on what they need to do,” said Bedard. “It all comes down to who competes the best on race day. We have seen athletes that were seeded 13th or 15th step up and finish in the top three.”

The Rams received one of those performances last season from Gohl in the 5,000 meters, and Bedard said that it motivated the Rams to a great performance.

“Allison was a freshman last year and we weren’t expecting a first-place finish out of her,” said Bedard. “That was a fun surprise, and it was an inspiration to our whole team to see someone who wasn’t seeded high step up.”

The women

The Rams’ two returning champions, Hemphill, who took the 3,000-meter run, and Gohl, both won events in their last competition at the Air Force Invitational. The Rams are a bit short on women’s sprinters, but the CSU distance and middle-distance runners have been very impressive this season, and they will need to shine again this weekend. Lauren Kleppin, Michelle Dettmann and Nicole Peters all have won 3,000-meter races this season, and the Rams have seven runners set to run the 3,000 meters and six in the 5,000-meter run.

Faubus, who just missed out on the women’s shot put title by a centimeter last year, is in prime position to capture an individual title. She is seeded first in the Mountain West this season with a toss of 15.44 meters. The women’s throwing squad is deep, often having multiple members finish in scoring positions in both the shot put and the weight throw this year.

Tanesha Johnson has been a bright spot as well for the Rams, winning the triple jump and 60-meter titles this season. Also winning jumping events for the Rams have been Michelle Roberts and Olivia Downing, while other athletes have been top finishers often this season.

The men

On the men’s side, Godell is entering the championships on a roll after earning MWC Athlete of the Week honors following his first-place finish in the weight throw at the Shine Invitational in Wyoming Friday, after defeating his top competitor, Jake Shanklin, who is seeded first this weekend. Tyson Williams, who picked up a win for the Rams in the shot put last weekend, leads a deep contingent for the Rams.

Sprinter Sulaiman Sayyid is the top-ranked athlete in the 60-meter dash after turning in a 6.86-second time earlier this season and he is looking to improve on a fourth-place finish last season. Ryan Friese and Wil Buchanan both have wins in the 800 meters for CSU this season, pacing the CSU middle-distance runners.

Like the women’s team, the men are also very deep in the distance competitions, going at least five deep in the 3,000 meters and 5,000 meters. The Rams also are very deep in the jumping events, with four athletes seeded in scoring position in the triple jump and two in the high jump. Doug Dieker will be the Rams’ top threat in both the pole vault and the heptathlon.

For those that wish to follow the action, real-time results will be available at 2009 MWC Indoor Track & Field Championship Central.

Contact: John Manuszak
Phone: (970) 491-5067