Track Teams Already in Postseason Form at Arizona State, Stanford Invitationals
TEMPE, Ariz. (March 25) - While many other teams were working out the kinks early in the outdoor season, the Cougars used the weekend to automatically qualify one athlete and provisionally qualify 10 more for the NCAA Championships, as the teams sent split squads to Tempe, Ariz., and Palo Alto, Calif.
At the Baldy Castillo Invitational on the campus of Arizona State, Kyle Grossarth provided the most impressive mark in men's action, racing to a win in the 400-meter hurdles in 50.42 seconds, an NCAA provisional mark. Jim Roberts also posted some impressive performances on the weekend, provisionally qualifying in the shot put (60'-7.75"), good for second place. Roberts also set personal bests in the discus (3rd, 185'-3") and in the hammer throw (1st, 196'-11"). In the 110-meter hurdle competition, Randy Himes and Slade Combs tied for second place with a time of 14.20.
At Stanford, the men's distance team set season highs across the board while competing against some of the toughest competition in the country. John Hedengren finished 28th in a deep 10,000 meter field in a time of 29:33.44, an NCAA provisional mark. Trevor Pettingill was also in good form, placing seventh in the 3,000 meter steeplechase in a time of 8:55.80.
"Overall, we had some excellent performances," said men's coach Willard Hirschi. "It was a little tough this weekend with some of the injuries we sustained, but we're progressing nicely and should have a good season." Several Cougars caught the injury bug this weekend, including freshman Trent Ady, who may have broken his foot in the finals of the 110-meter hurdles, and sprinter Robert Mugagga, who suffered a serious leg muscle pull in the 100-meter competition.
Due to changes in the ASU meet schedule, the Cougar women were forced to withdraw from the distance medley and mile relay, but still managed to make a solid showing. All-American miler Sherida Rogers started her outdoor season with an impressive victory in the 1500 meter race, winning in 4:25.95, followed by teammate Jolee Gillespie in third (4:27.36). Sprinters Holly Gibbons (59.29) and Milena Alver (59.63) narrowly missed setting new personal bests in the 400 meter hurdles, finishing the race in third and fourth, respectively.
Becky Jackson cleared 12'-4" to provisionally qualify for the NCAAs in the pole vault while finishing in third place, followed by teammate Sara Higham (11'-7.75") in fourth. Also picking up a provisional mark was Amy Curtis, who took third in the javelin (152'-7"). In the 800 meters, Melanie Steere placed third with a time of 2:12.17, while Emily Barrus set a new personal-best of 2:14.90 to take fifth place.
In action at Stanford, Sharolyn Shields became the Cougars' first automatic NCAA qualifier of the season, finishing sixth in the 3,000 meters in 9:17.71. Close behind were provisionally qualifying teammates Laura Heiner (7th, 9:19.37) and Susan Taylor (11th, 9:24.47). In the 5,000 meters, All-Americans Tara Rohatinsky and Marty Hernandez finished ninth and tenth, respectively, to pick up two more provisional marks. Freshman Sarah Ellett's time of 35:15.39 as BYU's lone entry in the 10,000 meters (23rd place) was also a provisional NCAA time.
"We worked really hard this week, and as a result we were a little tired today," said coach Craig Poole. "We're trying to get some of our athletes involved who didn't compete in the indoor season, so in a lot of ways we're starting from scratch. All in all, we did quite well. We didn't set the world on fire, but in a couple of weeks we will be significantly better."
Next up for both teams is the UTEP Coaches' Association meet, April 1 in El Paso, Texas.