Pair Of Event Titles Highlight Big Day In Sacramento
SACRAMENTO, Calif - The Thunderbird track and field teams opened competition at the 2017 Big Sky Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Sacramento, California, on Friday with several impressive performances on both the men's and women's side. Competition will conclude at Hornet Stadium on Saturday evening.
On the men's side, the day was highlighted by a pair of event titles and a runner-up finish.
In the men's 10,000-meter SUU's Mike Tate claimed the individual title in the event with a time of 30:28.78. His teammate, Matt Wright, was right behind him to claim the second spot, finishing in a time of 30:29.85.
“It felt awesome,” Tate said about how he was feeling crossing the finish line. “It felt even better when I looked back and saw Matt right behind me. It was a really cool experience and it was awesome to pick up big points while we're trying to win that team title.”
Wright said the duo were planning on staying at the front the whole way, and it worked out for them.
“The plan was to stick with the leaders, so we were just sticking in front and I made sure I stayed right behind Mike and made moves when he would make a move,” he said.
Senior Jayson Kovar, who earned All-American status in the discus last season, was back at it today claiming the event title with a throw of 190' 10''. The next closest throw was over 10 feet behind Kovar's.
“It's really special to go out winning the conference title in discus,” the senior said. “I couldn't think of a better way to end it.”
Kovar also noted that after his final event on Saturday, which is shot put, his attention will turn to the team.
“My event is the first one of the day so hopefully I can set the tone right and then cheer as loud as I can for everyone that's racing.”
SUU head coach Eric Houle said having the experience of an athlete like Kovar is invaluable.
“He's proven to be a champion,” he said. “Being a senior, to be able to have him perform at the level he's performing, and being able to chase a team championship and have him experience that this year is pretty cool.”
As far as Saturday's finals go, Kasey Knevelbaard qualified for the 800-meter final, Justin Lewis qualified for the 200-meter and 400-meter finals, Devon Montgomery qualified for the 110-meter hurdles final and Tre James made it into the 100-meter finals.
After one day of competition and six events scored, the Thunderbirds sit in fifth place with 28 points. Weber State sits on the top with 44, followed closely by Sacramento State with 43.
“If we perform the way we know we can perform and the score tips in our favor, that's cool,” coach Houle said. “Not because it tips in our favor, but because we did what we were supposed to do. There's some key events tomorrow where if we do what we're supposed to do, it's going to be a battle to the very end.”
Freshman Linnea Saltz had a big day for the Thunderbirds on the women's side, hitting the No. 3 spot in the SUU record book in both the 400-meter and the 800-meter. Saltz hit a 55.10 in the 400-meter to advance to the final, and was clocked at 2:10.93 in the 800-meter to just barely miss on a final there.
Saltz said her goal on Saturday is to just do what she knows she can do, and bring her 400 time down.
“If I just clear my head and run my race the way I think I can, I think I can go 54,” she said.
Fellow freshman Peyton Green set a personal best of 55.66, which now ranks as the sixth-fastest time in the event in school history. She will also be competing in the 400-meter final on Saturday.
Carly Dalton narrowly missed out on a spot in the women's 400-meter hurdles final after finishing in ninth place with a time of 1:02.52.
Ashley Tyndall had a solid showing in the women's 10,000-meter with a time of 36:31.39.
Green and Mia Russell finished 11th and 12th respectively in the women's 200-meter with times of 25.50 and 25.52. Russell also finished the 100-meter dash in a time of 12.44.
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