May 25, 2007
DES MOINES, Iowa -
The University of Wyoming track and field program completed their first day of competition Friday at the 2007 NCAA Midwest Regional Invitational in Des Moines, Iowa. This year, head track and field coach Don Yentes and his staff traveled 14 athletes who are competing in ten different events including the decathlon and women's 4x400-meter relay.
The highlight of the day came with Cowboy junior hammer thrower Jacob Shanklin's performance, as he finished in fourth place overall with a distance of 204'-10.00". Shanklin has now qualified to compete in the 2007 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships along with fellow Cowboy, Olav Roe, who also qualified in the decathlon earlier this month by scoring 7,222 points at the Mountain West Conference Championships. Today marked the second time this year that Shanklin has qualified for an NCAA Championship meet, as he was the only UW trackster to qualify for the 2007 NCAA Indoor Championships in the 35lb. weight throw.
"Having Jake qualify is a great accomplishment for him," said head coach Don Yentes. "Now hopefully tomorrow we can get a few more people to join he and Olav."
Also competing today were juniors Shaylee Babbitt in the women's 100-meter hurdles, Sharon Larrier in the 400-meter dash and Gretchen Johnson in the 5,000-meter run; as well as sophomores Adriana Friezen in the 400-meter hurdles and Brad Charters in the men's hammer throw.
Larrier was the only other athlete to qualify for the final round tomorrow in her respective event, as she finished the preliminary round in eighth place with a time of 53.98 seconds; just making the cut for Saturday's finals.
"I was thrilled to see Sharon make the cut for tomorrow's finals," said Yentes. "We've still got a lot of people to compete on Saturday, and I am just really pleased with what we've been able to accomplish so far."
Babbitt wasn't able to qualify for the final round, but her time of 14.17 seconds was good enough to rank her 16th overall in the Midwest Region as her season came to a strong finish. Also ending up just shy of the cut for tomorrow's final round were Johnson, Friezen and Charters.
Friezen finished the women's 400-meter hurdle preliminaries in 12th place with a time of 1:00.78 seconds. Friezen will compete again tomorrow as part of the 4x400-meter relay that will take place at 6:20 p.m. Central Time. Charters also had a strong showing but was unable to make the qualifying cut for the NCAA Championships, as he finished the day in 11th place with a distance of 187'-2.00". Johnson, who has been hampered with injury in recent weeks, finished the 5,000-meter run in 13th place with a time of 17:33.16.
"I'm really proud of our kids today," said Yentes. "Everyone who competed today finished ranked higher in the region than they were coming into this meet."
Saturday will feature the women's 4x400-meter relay team, which includes senior Amanda Hopper, juniors Larrier and Maricel DaCosta, and the sophomore Friezen. Also competing tomorrow will be Cowboy senior Philemon Tanui in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, as he vies for an invitation to the NCAA Championships early next month. Tanui entered this weekend's regional meet ranked 20th in the nation.
Senior Blake Jackson and redshirt freshman John Alderson will also be looking to compete well in the triple jump event; while senior hammer thrower Shannon Popp and sophomore discus thrower Courtney Gougler will also be looking to add their names to the list of athletes who will compete next month.
Tomorrow will begin with the men's javelin throw and triple jump at 12 p.m. Mountain time; with the last event, the women's 4x400-meter relay, beginning at 5:20 p.m.