LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Coming off the best finish in 2004-05 any Cowgirl team has ever had at the national level, it would be no surprise that the 2005-06 season is something to be excited about. There is no doubt that losing two women that really made Cowgirl track and field known to the rest of the country will be difficult to replace. However, when you see who is coming back and the new faces on the team, you maybe see one of the most solid teams in recent years. In every event the UW women are deeper and have more experience than any other team in the Don Yentes era. Although being a solid team, they do lack some experience in places. That is why Yentes will use the indoor season as somewhat of a tune-up for an outdoor season that he is real excited about.
The Cowgirls will not only use a strong senior class to lead the way, but also use returning All-Americans Amanda Hopper and Sharon Larrier. Both earned their All-American status when they each ran a leg on the 4x400-meter relay team that finished seventh at NCAA Nationals. They both were NCAA Midwest Regional qualifiers in their respective events. Some of the top senior returners mostly come from the distance squad that include 2004 Cross Country NCAA Qualifier Jennifer Thompson and 2005 All-MWC performer Michelle Kvernmo. All these women finished their seasons on high notes and look to carry that over to this season. They will lead the Cowgirls into this season as a well-rounded competitive team looking to continue their recent success in the MWC.
"I think we have the ability to be as good as we were last year towards the end of the outdoor season due to how deep we are in all areas," said UW head track and field coach Don Yentes.
"I am excited about our new additions this year and after they get some experience under the belt can lead to a very exciting outdoor season."
This is the one area of the Cowgirl team that went through the most change. Marjorie Bovey was the lone Cowgirl that competed in the throwing events last year and has improved during the off-season and looks to keep improving through this year.
Kate Burton, a transfer from Clark Junior College, is one the coaching staff is really excited about. She brings a resume to Wyoming that is very impressive and will look to immediately compete at the national level. Junior Shannon Popp and freshman Lynnae Fox are also new additions that should contribute to the Cowgirls right away. Popp, a transfer from Kansas State, was in the mix with the tough competition of the Big 12 in her time there by scoring points at the conference championships. Fox is an incoming freshman who was ranked nationally her senior year in her respective events. Sophomore Kristian Gomez and freshman Ashley Dion will add more depth to the throwing events as they will also be competing for the Cowgirls in this area.
The one area of the Cowgirls that has the most experience of any other events on the team is the distance squad. Seniors Jennifer Thompson and Michelle Kvernmo lead the way for the team with there high accolades. Thompson earned All-MWC honors during the 2004 cross country season, while Kvernmo was rewarded her All-MWC status in her last race of the 2005 outdoor season when she finished third in the 10,000-meters. Senior Emerald Reid also provides leadership as she has contributed points to the Cowgirls at the MWC Championships.
Some newcomers should provide a spark as well to this squad. Sophomore transfer Nikki Peterson will be a good addition to the middle distance events after having a successful cross country season for the Cowgirls.
Coming back for her senior year and strictly concentrating on the hurdle events is Ingvild Carstens. She spent most of last season with the pentathlon and heptathlon, but now we be centered more on the 400-meter hurdles where she has had success before. She was a point scorer last season at the MWC Outdoor Championships and looks to continue to improve this season. Two other Cowgirls that have stepped up over the fall season are junior Aniis Hopkins and sophomore Shaylee Babbitt. These two will also look to find a way to contribute the team.
Senior/Junior Janine Brathwaite will be called upon to be the top long jumper for the Cowgirls. She has shown times in the past where her marks could compete at the conference level. Senior Leah Burke and sophomore Jennifer Collen could also have the chance to compete in the MWC in the long jump.
There will need to be some questions answered for the coaching staff in the triple jump however. The coaches will be looking for someone to step up in that event.
Transfer Amanda Gompert will handle most of the duties in the high jump for the Cowgirls this season.
If there was one area of Cowgirl track and field that has made a name for itself in recent years, it would have to be the sprints squad. This year should be no different with returning All-Americans Amanda Hopper and Sharon Larrier. They both have had an unbelievable fall workout season and look to continue right where they left off at the end of last season. They will also be looking on getting that 4x400-meter relay team back to regionals and nationals. Senior Adewunmi Abudu and sophomore Maricel Da Costa continue to get better and will look to have great years, as well.
The 2005-06 Cowboy track and field team looks to be one of the most well-rounded teams in recent history. In almost every area the Pokes are two and three deep which should give them more opportunities to score points in the MWC Championships. Like the Cowgirls, the men's team is loaded with talent, but at the same time have some areas of inexperience and will use the indoor season to prepare them for the outdoor season.
The Cowboys return six All-MWC performers from a year ago. They include five sprinters in Domonic Baysinger, Robert Harris, Adam Kelly, Jermaine Kelly, and Dwight Neptune. Baysinger, Harris, and Jermaine Kelly excel in the longer sprints, while Adam Kelly and Neptune are better in the shorter sprints. Also, putting any combination of these guys together makes up pretty good relay team. The other All-MWC performer is triple jumper Blake Jackson. Jackson, if he stays healthy, has the ability to not only be the best in the MWC, but also compete with the best in the nation. These guys will be the ones to be ask to lead the Pokes this season and along with the new additions, have the opportunity to be one of the best Cowboy teams in school's history.
"I think this will be our best team ever in the school's history," said UW head coach Don Yentes. "With the guys we already have and the new additions, we are as solid as we have ever been in the time I have been here."
Handling the throwing responsibilities for the Cowboys will be redshirt freshman Casey Lass and freshman Brad Charters. Both have the ability to compete at the MWC Championships. Charters put up some big numbers in high school as he was named Junior All-American by USA Track and Field. He will look to make an immediate impact to the team.
Lass used his redshirt season to train in the hammer throw and 35-pound weight throw. He is excited about competing this year and will to contribute to the team.
Coming off a solid cross country season, the distance squad is probably one of the deepest areas on the team for the Cowboys. Not only are they deep, but also have a lot of senior leadership.
These seniors include Ragan Driver, Jeremiah Johnson and Brian Knight. Driver and Knight are very good long distance runners, while Johnson is one of the best 800-meter runners in the MWC who earned All-American honors in 2004.
To go along with these seniors are some new faces who will look to make an immediate impact. Junior Philemon Tanui, coming off a cross country season where he earned All-MWC honors, will be a huge plus to the team. Terrence Fenton and Mark Korir are some new men coming in at semester that the coaching staff is really excited about.
Sophomore Shadrack Too continues to improve and will be looking for breakout seasons in the MWC.
Sophomore Michael Arnwine returns after gaining a year of experience in the 400-meter hurdles. He has the ability to be one of the best in the MWC and will look to earn All-MWC honors in the event, plus help out in the 400-meters and relay teams as well.
Damien Farmer is a newcomer who could be one of the best in the MWC in the 400-meter hurdles. The coaching staff is excited to see what he can do and they think he can compete at the national level. Another new hurdle/sprinter that the coaches think can make an impact is freshman Kekoa Chavez from Hawaii.
Another area of the Cowboys that has a lot of depth and a bunch of talent. Junior Dwight Neptune will look to continue right where he left off when he finished the season strong with a third place finish in the 100-meters at the MWC Championships. Junior Adam Kelly will also be competing in the short sprints and relay teams.
In the 400-meters the Cowboys are loaded with talent. Seniors Robert Harris and Jermaine Kelly will lead the way. Both of them are in the top-five in Wyoming history in the event and will look to step up their performance to earn a regional spot. Junior Domonic Baysinger is another distance sprinter who look to make a name for himself in the MWC and contribute on both relay teams.
Senior/Junior Blake Jackson has the ability to one of the best triple jumpers in the country. Last season he qualified for indoor nationals, but was unable to compete due to an injury that sidelined him for the rest of the outdoor season too. He is a two-time All-MWC performer and looks to have a healthy and successful season.
Senior Tom Hall and sophomore Jared Grant will be handling the high jump duties for the Pokes. Both are very competitive and will by vying for All-MWC honors in the event. Grant was an All-MWC performer in 2004.
Competing in his first season ever in the multi-events last year was junior Phillip Thomas. He managed to get better throughout the year and finished ninth at the MWC Championships in the decathlon. He continued to get better this past fall and will look to compete for All-MWC honors.
An exciting newcomer in the multi-events for the Cowboys is junior Olav Roe. Roe is projected to be one of the best decathletes in the country this season. The coaching staff is really excited to see what Roe can do and think he should be an NCAA Qualifier.