Crossing the finish line
For the first time in 2012 the Idaho track and field team is competing at home. The Vandals debut the newly-renovated Dan O’Brien Track and Field Complex with the Vandal Jamboree today and Saturday. Eastern Washington, Lewis-Clark State, Washington State and Whitworth will travel to Moscow for the meet.
“At this time of year, for just about everybody it’s the weekend before conference (championships),” Idaho Director of Track and Field Wayne Phipps said. “A lot of schools will be resting a lot of people and ourselves included. But there’s still a number of people who are trying to get conference-qualifying performances or NCAA-qualifying performances.”
In addition to finishing the season strong, the primary goal for the Vandals is to stay healthy for the WAC Championships.
“It isn’t a good time … to get hurt,” sophomore Andrew Bloom said. “(We need to) take it easy and get ready for next week.”
Competing at home for the regular season finale offers a host of benefits for the Vandals. The athletes are excited to compete on the new track in front of a home crowd. They also benefit from being able to spend more time in the classroom.
“I think from an academic standpoint it’s really important (to be competing at home),” Phipps said. “When they’re preparing for finals the last thing you want to do is be on the road.”
In addition to the Vandal Jamboree, some of Idaho’s distance runners are travelling to Eugene for the Oregon Twilight. The distance group has struggled with sickness for much of the outdoor season so several of the top Vandal runners still need NCAA-qualifying times. One runner travelling to Oregon is back-to-back WAC Track Athlete of the Week Stephane Colle.
“At the beginning of the outdoor season a lot of people were sick, including me,” Colle said. “But I feel that everybody has kind of recuperated from the sickness and they just got back on training … I think it’s still going to be pretty good for the distance (this weekend).”
Vandal star Hannah Kiser will also make the trip to Eugene. The standout runner has only been able to compete in one race so far this season. Kiser and sophomore Alycia Butterworth posted career-best times at last year’s Oregon Twilight and hope to do the same this year.
The Oregon Twilight and the Vandal Jamboree are the last meets before the WAC Championship, which will also take place at the Dan O’Brien Track and Field Complex the following week.
“This is the very first meet on here. Everyone was very excited for the first practice on here so even more so excited for competing. This is the very first competition on this track. I think everyone is excited about it. And we’re excited to see this facility put to full use,” Phipps said.
Stephan Wiebe can be reached at email@example.com