T&F Athletes Among NCAA Best as Indoor Season Continues
"We're sending the distance team to ISU because there will be more teams there competing at our level," head coach Eric Houle said. "Now that we have to qualify for conference, the tracks we compete on are very important. The wooden track and wooden rings at ISU seem to slow our sprinters, throwers and jumpers down, so they will spend the weekend at NAU."
Southern Utah's distance squad had several break into the Big Sky qualifying team last weekend, with four runners ranking in the Division I top 30. Jamie Smith is currently the highest ranking Thunderbird with a 13th-place national rank in the 5,000-meters after racing at UW. Kirsten Bradford and Sylvia Bedford currently rank 20th and 27th in the 5,000-meter run. Clinton Rhoton leads the squad in the men's 5,000-meters with a 20th-place national position. All four T-Birds will compete at Idaho State, along with fellow conference qualifers Ryan Barrus, John Hart, Kaylee Coates, Dayna VanArsdol and Shelli Mogensen.
Thrower Kayla Kovar has also broken into the top 50 in the nation and will continue the indoor season at Northern Arizona with a season-best shot put mark of 50-3.25, currently ranking 45th in Division I and first in the Big Sky. Chris Johnson and Jennika Wright will also be among the throwers competing in Flagstaff, each having recorded conference qualifying marks in the shot put two weeks ago at New Mexico.
The squad traveling to NAU also includes top hurdlers Shaye Maurer and Kodai Kusano, as well as Big Sky qualifying sprinters Shaun Murray, Arnold Carrillo and Preston Myers. Maurer currently ranks 37th in the nation in the 60-meter hurdles while Murray leads the Big Sky conference in both the 55-meter and 200-meter dashes.
Following the events of this weekend, the T-Birds will unite once again as the squad returns to Seattle, Wash., for the University of Washington's Husky Classic, set to take place Feb. 8-9.