Courtesy: SUU Media Relations
POCATELLO, Idaho – Jan. 18 – SUU Track and Field kicked off the season with a bang as the T-Birds recorded a dozen Big Sky qualifying marks at Idaho State’s Snake River Open. Several athletes also earned places within the school record books with top meet finishes.
“This was a really good meet for the team,” head coach Eric Houle said. “Many of these athletes had not competed since May, but they really haven’t missed a beat. Our goal this weekend was to give them a chance to get back into competition and they did even better than I had expected.”
Sister and brother duo Kayla Kovar and Jason Kovar led the Thunderbirds with two Big Sky qualifying marks each as they dominated their respective throwing events. Kayla Kovar improved her Southern Utah record in the weight throw by about three inches with a first-place mark of 61-9, while also leading in the shot put with a 52-8 toss. Jayson Kovar followed his sister’s example with first-place marks of 53-5.75 in the shot put and 56-0.5 in the weight throw, ranking fourth and ninth respectively in the school record books.
Sprinters Shaun Murray and Preston Myers also posted a total of four conference qualifiers as they both recorded top-three finishes in the 60-meter and 200-meter dashes. Murray took the title in the 60-meters with a time of 6.85, followed by Myers with a second-place time of 6.89. Utah Valley’s Nicholas Taylor (21.73) bested the pair in the 200-meters, but Myers and Murray still qualified with a second-place time of 21.94 and third-place time of 22.09, respectively.
Arnold Carrillo also raced to a first-place finish at the Bengal-hosted meet, recording a 49.12 finish in the 400-meter run and falling only .02 seconds short of a conference qualifier.
Brigham Young transfer Russell Nielson led the jumpers on the men’s side in his first appearance since joining the Thunderbird program. Nielson leapt to an individual title in the high jump with a Big Sky qualifying mark of 6-8.75 and recorded a third-place mark of 19-10.25 in the long jump. His high jump finish also ranks fourth in SUU’s all-time top ten.
Multi athlete Shaye Springall led the women at Idaho State as she recorded first-place finishes in each of her three events. Springall qualified for the Big Sky championship in the 60-meter hurdles with an 8.50 finish and in the high jump with a mark of 5-7, falling only one inch short of the SUU all-time record of 5-8 which she set in 2011. She also led the field in the long jump with a mark of 17-10.25.
Fellow jumper Taylir Garrison followed right behind Springall in the high jump, recording a second-place mark of 5-5. Garrison’s mark ranks sixth in Southern Utah’s records and also qualifies her for a berth at the conference championship.
Freshman sprinter Kayla Shakespeare made her collegiate debut with an individual title in the women’s 60-meter dash, recording a fourth-best Southern Utah record of 7.73. Shakespeare also finished third in the 200-meter dash with a time of 25.96.
The indoor season will continue next weekend when the T-Birds travel to Flagstaff, Ariz., for the Lumberjack’s NAU Invitational on Jan. 24-25.
* All times are adjusted for altitude.