April 25, 2007
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The University of Wyoming track and field program will host the first annual outdoor Wyoming Invitational track meet, sponsored by Laramie GM Auto Center, on Saturday, April 28, at the Louis S. Madrid Sports Complex and Memorial 8 Track. The weekend's invite will be the first time in 30 years that UW has hosted an outdoor track meet. The last event came on April 30, 1977.
Teams competing in this year's invite will be the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, the University of Northern Colorado, the Air Force Academy and Eastern Michigan University.
Saturday's non-scoring invitational will begin at 10 a.m. with the field events. The track events will begin promptly at 12 p.m. with the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase and will conclude at 4:45 p.m. with the men's 1,600-meter relay.
The Louis S. Madrid Sports Complex and Memorial 8 Track is located at the corner of 30th and Willett Drive. Parking is free, however, there is a five dollar charge for adults and a three dollar charge for children to attend the day's events. UW students get in free with proper student identification.
Wyoming brings nine individuals and one relay team into Saturday's meet who have already qualified for the 2007 NCAA Midwest Regional meet next month. Among those participating will be newcomers Jacob Shanklin and Adriana Friezen. Both Shanklin and Friezen have regionally qualified, while Friezen has done it in two different events; the 100-meter hurdles and the 400-meter hurdles. Veteran weight thrower Shannon Popp will be looking to improve her standing in the region as she will be competing in her first and last Wyoming Invitational. Cheyenne native and experienced jumper, Blake Jackson will also be competing in his first and last outdoor invitational hosted in Laramie.
Last weekend at the Oregon Invite, junior distance runner Gretchen Johnson, a native of Basin, Wyo., made her mark in the UW record books as she ran the second fastest time school history in the women's 5,000-meter run; 16:41.21. Johnson will be a key factor in the distance events for the Cowgirls on Saturday, but unlike many of the seniors, she will have an opportunity to compete for one more year, thus, giving her the chance to earn the number one spot all-time in UW history.
Senior Philemon Tanui, who moved into third place all-time at Wyoming in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase this past weekend, will conclude his tenure with UW on Saturday. Tanui, a native of Eldoret, Kenya, finished the race with a time of 8:50.80, which beat his previous personal best time of 8:56.57. Philemon finished his career a two time All-MWC honoree in cross country.
On Saturday, April 21, in Fort Collins, Colorado, the women's 4x400-meter relay team also regionally qualified, earning themselves a trip to Ames, Iowa next month.
On Saturday look for redshirt freshman John Alderson, who joins Jackson in the jumping events, to have a solid day as he looks to continue Wyoming's jumping tradition of success that started with coach Quincy Howe back in the nineties.
Other athletes competing this weekend for the last time before the end of the conference season will be seniors Amanda Hopper and Aniis Hopkins. Both Hopper and Hopkins have played a key role in the overall success of UW track and field. Hopper was a member of the 2005 4x400-meter relay team who achieved All-American honors; the same year UW great Shauna Smith won her first and only individual national championship in the 400-meter hurdles.
Head track and field coach Don Yentes is in his seventh season at the helm of the Cowboys and Cowgirls. Wyoming's track and field program has experienced a tremendous amount of success in Yentes' tenure as head coach. During Yentes' six seasons at the helm of the Wyoming program, UW has produced 21 All-Americans, 38 conference champions, 40 NCAA Championship participants, including junior weight thrower, Jake Shanklin.
Assisting Yentes is head cross country coach and distance coach, Randy Cole. Cole is in his fourth season with the track and field program after completing his third season at the helm of the UW cross country teams. During this time the UW harriers have improved into the upper half of the Mountain West Conference and have provided numerous individual highlights, including sophomore Mark Korir's performance in the fall of 2006. Korir finished the season 22nd in the nation and was awarded with All-America honors.
Paul Barrett is in his 13th season with Wyoming as the throws coach. Barrett has coached 13 All-Americans, 16 conference champions and 74 All-Conference (Top 3) award winners while at UW. Among those coached by Barrett is three-time All-American Ryan Butler. Butler was the 1996 National Champion in the 35lb. weight throw event. After a brief stint at the University of Kentucky and the University of Colorado, Barrett returned to Laramie to take over the throwing events.
Rounding out the coaching staff is fourth year jumps coach and second year multi-events coach, Quincy Howe. A native of Trinidad and Tobago, Howe had a brilliant career as a Cowboy. He earned All-American honors twice 2001-02 in the triple jump and was never beaten in the event during competition in the WAC and MWC, winning eight conference titles. He currently owns Wyoming and Mountain West Conference records in both the indoor and outdoor triple jumps with marks of 54'-9.25" and 54'-4.75".
The last time UW hosted an invitational track meet was the 1977 track season which featured two men's team members who ran record setting times in their respective events. Darius Taruru, a junior that year from Kapsabet, Kenya, ran a time of 46.44 in the 400-meter dash, which was good enough to rank him first all-time in Wyoming history, a record that still stands today.Geir Kvernmo, a freshman from Trondheim, Norway and a top distance runner for UW during his collegiate career, ran a time of 14:42.14 in the 3-mile run. This time also still stands as the best time ever ran by a Cowboy.
That year marked the first season for then head coach, Ron Richardson. Richardson came to UW from the University of Tennessee where he had been the assistant track and field coach for five seasons. While at Tennessee, Richardson helped lead the Volunteers to two NCAA titles and a top five ranking each of the six years he was affiliated with the program. Richardson was assisted by Jeff Fuller at UW. Fuller, a native of Torrington, Wyoming, was entering his third year as a graduate assistant coach. Fuller began his collegiate track career at Mesa Community College in Mesa, Arizona; later transferring to UW. At Wyoming, Fuller competed in the 440-hurdles outdoors and the 600-yard run during the indoor seasons under previous head coach, John Walker.