The final indoor track and field meets before the WAC Indoor Championships take place at home Friday and Saturday for Idaho. For some Vandals, it is the final chance to qualify for the WAC Championships, and for the seniors, it is the final home indoor meet of their career.
“It’s always nice not to have to travel the weekend before a conference championship, especially when we’ve got a long ways to travel,” Idaho coach Wayne Phipps said. “This way, they get a chance to get to class as much as possible. That’s really important, and the stress of travelling is removed.”
Teams from WSU, Eastern Washington, Gonzaga, Spokane Community College, Eastern Oregon, Concordia and Whitworth are coming to Idaho for the Idaho Collegiate Friday and the Idaho Open II Saturday. The Idaho Collegiate features the best competition of the weekend while the Idaho Open II is a larger meet open to more people, including high school students.
“Being at home is definitely something a lot of people take for granted, I think,” Idaho senior thrower Kristine Leonard said. “Competing at home always has a fun aspect to it.”
The Vandal seniors are competing in their final home indoor meets this weekend, making the Idaho Open II the “senior night” of the indoor season. Idaho has one home meet during the outdoor track and field season.
“It really is my last meet in the Kibbie,” Leonard said. “It would be really nice to throw a (personal record) in here because this is where my dad threw his PR.”
With this weekend being the final weekend before the WAC Championship, some Vandals are still vying for a spot in the meet or want to finish the regular season on a solid note before heading into the championships. For other athletes, this weekend is an opportunity to rest before giving everything in the WAC Championships. Phipps said some athletes will be a “game time decision” regarding whether or not they will compete this weekend.
One athlete that will definitely compete this weekend is sophomore pole-vaulter Matt Sullivan. Sullivan, Idaho’s only indoor pole-vaulter this season, said most of his competition will come from the Texas schools at the WAC Championships, but he wants to go into the championship on a high note.
“I figure if I’m going to compete, I might as well go for it.” Sullivan said. “I’m really looking forward to competing in front of my friends and I actually have some family coming up to watch me jump.”
Sullivan and the other pole-vaulters and jumpers have been competing most of the season without a specific jumps coach. Phipps and volunteer sprints/hurdles coach Angela Whyte helped coach the jumpers as the Vandals searched for a coaching hire.
On Wednesday, Phipps announced the hiring of former All-American jumper Allen Simms as the new jumps coach at Idaho.
“Most of last semester we were without a full-time jumps coach,” Phipps said. “It’s great having Allen in place. It will take a little while for them to see the benefits of Allen’s mentoring but to me it means a ton having him in place. Great things are going to happen for that group down the road.”
Stephan Wiebe can be reached at email@example.com