May 11, 2012
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -
He waited until his last chance, but University of Wyoming junior Joe Plante made sure it was worth the wait as he won the discus throw at the Mountain West Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Friday.
Plante won the discus on his last toss of the day with a season-best mark of 184 feet, 7 inches, to overtake Air Force's James Cole for the title. Plante, who now is ranked 22nd in the nation, became the first outdoor conference champion for the Wyoming men since 2010, when Kekoa Chavez won the 400-meter hurdles.
The other conference champ for the Cowboys was senior Nick Ekel, who won the 10,000-meter run with an altitude-converted time of 29:26.85. That puts him No. 8 in UW history.
His teammate, freshman Aaron Derner, was fifth in the same event with a time of 29:56.27. He earned the ninth-best time in Wyoming history.
"It was an up-and-down, roller coaster kind of day," Wyoming head coach Don Yentes said. "Our kids competed really well. We had a lot of season-bests. They did a real nice job. The kids competed and we're set up to do some good things tomorrow."
The Wyoming men sit in third place of the six-team field with 51 points, while the Cowgirls are eighth out of eight teams with 17 points.
Senior Ashley Hutchinson was second in the hammer with a toss of 192 feet, 8 inches. That mark is 40th in the nation. She also finished 11th in the discus, hitting 143-11.
"In temperatures in the 30s, Ashley stepped up big and showed her Cowgirl toughness with a near PR to earn All-Conference (in the hammer)," Wyoming throws coach Paul Barrett said.
Sophomore Jenna Mann qualified for the 100-meter hurdle finals with a time of 14.13 seconds in the prelims, finishing sixth.
In the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase, junior Abi Bever just missed out on scoring points, finishing ninth with a time of 11:26.41, altitude-converted. Senior Lindsey Simmons suffered a similar fate in the 400-meter dash, crossing the line in ninth with a time of 57.02. Senior Chantel Bernabo was 10th in the 100-meter dash, 12.33.
Three Cowgirls will be in the finals of 400-meter hurdles, as junior Diana Long, sophomore Erin Kirby and sophomore Taylor Gardner were second, third and fifth in the prelims, respectively. Sophomore Candace Wollert also put herself in the finals of the 800-meter run, finishing third with a time of 2:10.75.
Freshman Samantha Kee was seventh in the prelims of the 200-meter dash and will take a qualifying time of 24.67 seconds into the finals Saturday.
Plante's effort in the discus, coupled with freshman Paul Thomas' eighth-place finish, netted the Wyoming men 11 points.
"In tough, cold conditions, Joe really dug deep and competed great," Barrett said of Plante's day. "He wanted his first conference title badly and fought for it."
Sophomore Garrett Zans finished with All-Conference honors in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with his second-place finish. Zans crossed the line with a time of 9:02.37. Sophomore Michael Banks was eighth in the same race, scoring one point for the Cowboys with a time of 9:26.41. Both times were converted for altitude.
Junior Tyler Skinner was ninth in the high jump, just missing out on points with a leap of 6-4.75. Junior Brandon Douglass was fourth in the prelims of the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.29. He'll run in the finals Saturday.
Junior Stephen Michel was ninth in the 200-meter dash, missing out on the finals by just 0.02 seconds with a time of 21.71. That time is tied for No. 8 in UW history.
The MW Championships will conclude Saturday in Colorado Springs. Action begins at 10:30 a.m. with the women's shot put in the field events, and at 12:30 p.m. with the women's 4-by-100-meter relay in the track events.