Vandals bring home 30 career-best marks during three home meets
The Vandal track and field teams took advantage of three home meets in three days with 16 victories and 30 career-best marks during the weekend. Idaho and teams from Washington State, Central Washington, Whitworth, Western Oregon, Warner Pacific, Saint Martin’s, Linfield and Community Colleges of Spokane competed in the 37th Annual Vandal Indoor Friday, the Vandal Collegiate Saturday and the Vandal Open Sunday.
“It’s great to be home and have our facility and be able to compete here, but it just shows that this is a team that continues to get better and better,” Idaho coach Julie Taylor said. “Their hard work is paying off.”
Most of the Vandals’ victories and personal records came in the Vandal Indoor Friday. Senior Liga Velvere ran for an uncontested victory in the women’s 800-meter with her time of 2:09.44. She won the race by more than six seconds and increased her WAC lead to nearly two full seconds. Velvere also anchored Idaho’s winning women’s 4×400-meter relay with seniors Keli Hall and Lauren Schaffer and junior Karlene Hurrel. The team won the race in 3:49.56.
Velvere went on to win the 400-meter dash in 56.11 seconds on Saturday and 56.91 seconds on Sunday to claim three individual victories and four total victories on the weekend.
Junior Hannah Kiser also impressed on Friday with a 4:45.01 victory in the women’s mile. She won the race by more than 20 seconds and holds the fastest time in the WAC by more than seven seconds.
Idaho coach Wayne Phipps said there wasn’t much competition for either Velvere or Kiser, but they still put up impressive runs.
“They’re really coming into their own this season,” he said. “For them to run as fast as they did with pretty big leads all the way through was just really impressive. I’m really excited to see what they’ll do next weekend.”
On the men’s side of the Vandal Indoor, junior Andrew Bloom won the men’s 400-meter in 48.44 and sophomore Ben Ayesu-Attah won the 200-meters in 21.96. Bloom and Ayesu-Attah then teamed up with freshmen Ian Middleton and Blake Gerling to win the 4x400m relay with a time of 3:18.19.
In the field events, sophomore Matt Sullivan cleared 16-4.75 feet to win the men’s pole vault. Sullivan’s vault was a personal best.
Junior Kyle Rothwell joined the sixty-foot club with a two-foot personal record to win the men’s weight throw with his toss of 61-10.5. He then matched Friday’s toss on Saturday to win the weight throw in the Vandal Collegiate with the same exact mark.
“He’s been kind of on the verge of hitting that at earlier meets so it was nice for him to put everything together,” Taylor said. “Each year he’s gotten better and better as far as what he’s doing and his approach to competing.”
Back on the women’s side, senior Kristine Leonard won the weight throw with a toss of 55-10.5 while also garnering second place finishes in shot put (46-4) and the indoor discus (150-2). Sophomore teammate Johanna Hocketstaller won women’s shot put at 46-11 to round out a dominating throwing performance at the Vandal Indoor for Idaho. The Vandal women didn’t let up on Saturday or Sunday, winning the weight throw event on all three days.
In addition to the victories by the Vandal athletes, an Idaho coach also had a victory during the weekend. Volunteer assistant coach Angela Whyte won the women’s 60-meter hurdles at the Vandal Indoor with a time of 8.08. The two-time Olympian’s time is currently tied for fifth-fastest in the world.
“I love running here,” Whyte said. “We have a very fast track. I always love running here. The Vandal (Indoor) is a very special event for me because I’ve always ran in that.”
Idaho is on the road this week, travelling to Seattle for the Husky Classic and UW Indoor Open Feb. 8-10.
Stephan Wiebe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org