Vandals garner multiple individual titles in regular season finale, prepare for WAC Championships
In their last meets of the regular season, the Vandal track and field teams capitalized with five victories in the Idaho Collegiate on Friday and five more victories in the Idaho Open II on Saturday. The meets were the last two before the WAC Championships Thursday through Saturday in Albuquerque, N.M.
“I thought we had a number of really outstanding performances across the board from people that had already put some really good marks earlier in the year, and then some people that needed to put up good marks on Friday to help for conference,” Idaho coach Wayne Phipps said.
In the Idaho Collegiate, senior Liga Velvere improved on her WAC lead in the women’s 800-meter run with her time of 2 minutes, 7.83 seconds to win the race. The time is the second fastest of her career.
Fellow senior Kristine Leonard had a strong showing in her throwing events. Leonard won the discus with a toss of 156 feet, 7 inches. She went on to finish second in the weight throw with a career-best throw (57-7.75) and was third in the shot put (45-7.25). Leonard also won the weight throw on Saturday with a toss of 56-09.50.
On the men’s side, senior Barry Britt finished fourth in the mile, but his time of 4:07.33 is the best in the WAC by more than four seconds. It is also a five-second personal best.
“He’s been battling throughout the indoor season, so it’s a race that he really needed from his standpoint to have a lot of confidence going into the conference meet,” Phipps said.
The Vandal men went one-two in the 60-meter dash with senior Ugis Svazs winning the race in 7.06, right ahead of sophomore teammate Jesse Villines who finished in 7.07. Svazs didn’t let up on Saturday, taking the 60-meter victory in the Idaho Open II to win the race on back-to-back days.
The Vandals also posted first and second place finishes in the 800. Senior Kyle Tylor finished first with a season-best time of 1:53.12 while freshman Tyler Jaszkowiak crossed in second with a time of 1:56.19.
Jumping with little petition, sophomore Matt Sullivan won the pole vault for Idaho with a height of 17-0.75. The career-best mark places Sullivan second in the WAC and he is only the third Vandal to ever clear 17 feet.
“He’s put himself into contention to win a conference title in what is a very tough vault conference,” Phipps said. “Matt’s just been getting better and better every weekend.”
Seniors Lauren Schaffer and Mercedes Blackwood added a combined three victories to the Vandal tally on Saturday. Eight of the 10 total Vandal victories during the weekend came from Idaho seniors competing in their last indoor meets in the Kibbie Dome. The victories are a confidence booster for the Vandals as they prepare this week for the WAC Indoor Track and Field Championships in Albuquerque.
“People really took advantage of having one more opportunity before conference to either improve upon conference marks or establish themselves as contenders for conference,” Phipps said.
Stephan Wiebe can be reached at email@example.com