CEDAR CITY, Utah - Jan. 23 - Southern Utah track and field looks to record more Big Sky qualifying marks this weekend as the squads travel south to Flagstaff, Ariz., for the NAU Invitational. There the Thunderbirds will face teams including Northern Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA, Grand Canyon and Cal State Bakersfield.
“I hope to see continued improvements in each event and to get some more people qualified for the conference championship,” head coach Eric Houle said. “The stage is set for really great opportunities at a high level of competition, which is exactly what I look for in a meet. It’s not about if we win or not, it’s about chasing performances.”
The Thunderbirds will enter the competition at Northern Arizona after opening the indoor season with several Big Sky qualifiers and nationally ranked performances at Idaho State’s Snake River Open. Throwers Kayla Kovar and Jayson Kovar each qualified for the championship in both the shot put and weight throw. Kayla Kovar now leads the conference in both events and ranks 16th in the shot put and 31st in the weight throw in Division I.
Multi athletes Shaye Maurer-Springall and Russell Nielson also return to compete in four events each after recording Big Sky qualifiers at Idaho State. Maurer-Springall earned a conference athlete of the week citation after a top Big Sky time in the 60-meter hurdles and second qualifying mark in the long jump. Her 60-meter hurdles time of 8.50 ranks 35th in Division I.
Sprinters Shaun Murray and Preston Myers also doubled in qualifiers with top-three finishes in the 60-meter and 200-meter dashes. Myers leads the Big Sky in the 200-meters and ranks third in the 60-meters, while Murray ranks second in both events. Both sprinters will race in the 400-meter dash at NAU, looking to record another pair of qualifying times.
The distance squad will also take part in the competition this weekend, led by Nate Jewkes and Ryan Barrus on the men’s side, and Aubrey Bryson, Sierra Malm and Shelli Mogensen on the women’s.
The Thunderbirds will split between two meets when they compete next, with squads traveling to ISU’s Mountain States Games in Pocatello, Idaho, and the UW Invitational in Seattle, Wash. Both meets will take place Jan. 31-Feb. 1.