Coming off of a convincing showing by both the men’s and women’s track and field teams at the 2014 WAC Outdoor Conference Championships, the Vandals now set their sights on a bigger stage — the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
The preliminary meet will take place on May 29-31.Should any of the 11 advance to the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, they will be traveling to Eugene, Ore. to compete on June 12-15.
Idaho coach Wayne Phipps said winning the WAC title was a goal the team had going into the final season in the WAC. They also wanted to try to help Idaho win its first WAC Commissioner’s Cup.
Eleven athletes will represent the Vandals at the NCAA West Preliminary Championships including senior distance runners Hannah Kiser and Alycia Butterworth. On the men’s side, the fastest 400m runner in the WAC, junior Ben Ayesu-Attah, leads the way.
Should the Vandals make it through the preliminary meet, consisting of 48 athletes and 24 relay teams, they will move on to the Championships in Eugene, Ore. In order to do so they will need to finish in the top 12 in their respective events.
“We are excited about the 11 that we are sending,” Phipps said. “We feel like we have a handful that can advance onto the final rounds.”
Along with the senior distance runners and Ayesu-Attah, they have six other athletes who took home gold medals at the WAC Championships on May 14.
Along with the gold in the 5,000m, Kiser also took home the Women’s Outstanding Track Performer award for the second year in a row. She was joined in the awards category by Arphaxad Carroll, who won his second Freshman of the Year Award this year, with the first being from the indoor season.
“We are a very young team,” Phipps said. “We have some quality people at home this year redshirting, getting 11 in is a great accomplishment.”
Four of the six women competing are underclassmen. Sophomore javelin champion Tayler Feinauer and freshman triple jumper Faith Eruwa, who placed second at the WAC Championships, will be joined by freshmen Katelyn Peterson and Ana Pardo who took home gold medals in the high jump and shot put, respectively.
Those four will join Kiser and Butterworth, who finished first in the 5,000m and 3,000m steeplechase, respectively.
The men’s side of the field is more experienced with a pair of senior throwers in shot putter Andrey Levkiv and Kyle Rothwell, who will compete in the Hammer Throw. The Vandals will also send two juniors to the meet — Ayesu-Attah and pole vaulter Matt Sullivan. The final member of the team at the preliminaries will be Carroll.
Joshua Gamez can be reached at email@example.com