The indoor track and field season didn’t end like the Vandals had hoped with the men’s team finishing fifth and the women’s team finishing sixth in the WAC Indoor Championship, but the outdoor season offers a fresh start. Idaho begins the outdoor season Friday in Spokane at the Buc Scoring Invitational hosted by Whitworth.
“We’ll be deeper outdoors,” Idaho coach Wayne Phipps said. “We’ll be a better outdoors team than we are an indoor team. Despite not finishing as high as we would have liked indoors, our goals are still the same.”
The Vandals return several of their best athletes for the outdoor season that couldn’t compete during the indoor season for various reasons. Five of the athletes they return on the men’s side are individual conference champions.
“We have a number — on both sides — that didn’t compete (indoors) for a variety reasons, whether they didn’t have indoor eligibility, or they had been hurt, or they had redshirted or they just didn’t have their event indoors,” Phipps said.
All-American pole-vaulter Jeremy Klas is one Vandal to return. Klas has qualified for the NCAA Championships for three consecutive seasons. He has used all his eligibility for indoor track and field, and hasn’t competed since the 2012 outdoor season.
Another returning All-American is javelin thrower Mike Marshall. The javelin is an outdoor event only.
“Seeing our javelin throwers compete for the first time will be exciting,” Phipps said. “We’ve got really good javelin throwers on both sides.”
Vandal standout Hannah Kiser is also set for a great outdoor season, after illness took her out for the majority of the 2012 outdoor season. Kiser enters the outdoor season coming off a fifth-place first-team All-American performance in the 3000-meter run at the NCAA Indoor Championships on March 9.
“We feel like Hannah Kiser, after having an amazing indoor season, is ready to have a breakout outdoor season,” Phipps said. “She hasn’t competed outdoors for a while.”
The Vandals won’t compete with full squads in the first meet of the season. With the short turn-around from the indoor season, Phipps said the focus early in the season is on the training. The teams won’t compete with full squads until April.
“After indoors, we kind of bump up the volume again, so this is still pretty early for us but it’s important, especially for certain event areas, to get in some early meets,” Phipps said. “We won’t approach it as a scoring meet. We are still pretty limited on our entries. We’ll probably have 10-15 on each side compete.”
In addition to host-team Whitworth, the Vandals will face other Northwest area schools. The main focus at the Buc Scoring Invitational is starting the season on the right foot and competing the athletes that need an early start to the season.
“The competition looks good,” Phipps said. “Hopefully the weather holds up so that you’re not battling 50 mile-an-hour winds or rain or anything like that. I think it’s a very appropriate competition for this time of year. For many it’s going to be their very first meet of the year.”
Stephan Wiebe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org