Idaho’s track and field team has one more weekend on the road this weekend, in Palo Alto, California, and Corvallis, Oregon, before it can come home again. It’s been a hectic road schedule that finally brought the Vandals back to the area for a successful meet in Pullman last weekend. The team spent the previous two weeks on the road with a vigorous schedule that included six different meets, before coming home for the Cougar Invitational.
Idaho coach Wayne Phipps said athletes at the meet in Pullman benefited from the chance to compete close to home. Senior Karlene Hurrel won both the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints in Pullman and junior Ben Ayesu-Attah took first place in the 200-meter and 400-meter sprints.
The Vandal Jamboree, on May 9 and May 10, will give athletes an opportunity to improve their times on familiar turf. Phipps said that this also gives his athletes another chance to qualify for the NCAA championships.
“You don’t have to worry about travel, you can stay on your own schedule, and all that I think makes a big difference,” Phipps said.
This weekend, the Vandals will split into two teams to attend the OSU High Performance Meet hosted by Oregon State and the Payton Jordan Invitational hosted by Stanford.
As the season draws to a close, opportunities to improve personal bests are rapidly fading. Athletes will look to improve their marks in the upcoming meets to make the cut for the NCAAs, which is based on their best performances from the season.
The Vandals are coming off of a strong showing at the CSULA Open, where senior Alycia Butterworth took second in the steeplechase with the second best time in Idaho history. Several other Vandal athletes also set personal bests at the meet.
Perhaps most importantly for the Vandals, this weekend will mark the return of senior distance runner Hannah Kiser. Kiser was injured at the end of the cross country season and has been recovering steadily. She will make her comeback at the Payton Jordan Invitational this weekend at Stanford.
“We just felt like giving recovery a little bit more time was just going to be overall beneficial,” Phipps said.
While the Vandal Jamboree will be the most visible event for the team, the WAC Championship meet in two weeks is the most important, freshman Faith Eruwa said. The WAC meet takes place in Orem, Utah, where the team hopes to win the outdoor title after the men took the indoor title earlier this year.
Coming to the end of the outdoor season, the Vandals currently have eight athletes leading the WAC in their events.
Josiah Whitling can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org