May 12, 2014
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
For just the second time in the conference's 15-year history, the University of Wyoming will host the Mountain West Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The Cowboys and Cowgirls welcome seven men's and 11 women's teams to Memorial 8 Track at Louis S. Madrid Sports Complex this week for the meet. Action on Wednesday and Thursday features the women's heptathlon and men's decathlon beginning at noon MT each day. Friday's events commence at 11 a.m., while Saturday's final events start at noon with an awards ceremony at 4 p.m. Fans can follow live results of all four days through GoWYO.com, including live video of Friday and Saturday's track events.
Wyoming last hosted the conference outdoor championships in 2009, as the Cowboys finished sixth and the Cowgirls were ninth. Both squads have hopes for much higher finishes this season, though. The Cowgirls were second at March's MW Indoor Championships, their highest finish ever, and the Cowboys placed fifth with their most points in four years. The teams have continued that success to the outdoor season, including an impressive showing in their last meet, the Cowpoke Open on May 3 at home. Wyoming tallied 10 all-time top-10 marks at the event, while adding school records from Kereston Thomas in the 100 meters and Audra DeStefano in the steeplechase. DeStefano's time also set a facility record, a feat also accomplished by Mason Finley in the discus. His throw was 13th-best in the world this season.
"I think this will be a special moment for our program," UW head coach Bryan Berryhill said. "Any time you get to host a conference championship and know you won't host it again for some time, that makes it special for the student-athletes. We have high expectations for this meet as well. Our goal is always to do better than we did the year before, but we want to perform well in front of our fans too. This will be a tough meet, though. This is probably going to be the most talent at one time on a single track in the history of the state of Wyoming. We hope that brings out our local track and field fans to cheer on their Cowboys and Cowgirls."
History at the MW Outdoor Championships
The Cowboys' top finish at the Mountain West Outdoor Championships was third in 2000 and 2005, including a program-best 121.5 points in 2000. The UW men haven't finished higher than fifth since 2002. The Cowboys have earned 23 individual MW titles, including most recently Henry Ferreira last season in the javelin with a school-record 224-0. The Cowgirls' top finish at the MW Outdoor Championships came in 2000 when they finished third with 148 points, their highest point total ever. The UW women haven't finished higher than seventh since 2005. The Cowgirls have claimed 23 individual MW titles as well. The most recent Cowgirls to win an event were Afiya Walker and Erin Kirby in 2011. Walker crossed the line in the 400 meters in 53.65, while Kirby finished the 400-meter hurdles in 59.39.
Last Time Out: Finley Outshines DeStefano and Thomas at Cowpoke Open
The Cowpoke Open on May 3 was another historic meet for the University of Wyoming track and field teams, as Audra DeStefano and Kereston Thomas set school records in the steeplechase and 100 meters, respectively, while Mason Finley notched the 13th-furthest discus throw in the world. The Cowboys and Cowgirls combined to win 10 events at Louis S. Madrid Sports Complex.
"We tend to do well at this meet and running on your home track is one aspect, but I think these kids are hitting their peak," Wyoming head coach Bryan Berryhill said. "They are a little more rested when they compete at home and they are excited, but we are hopefully as a coaching staff getting them ready to hit a peak."
On his last attempt of the day, Finley uncorked a monster throw of 210-6 to win the men's discus with a new personal best and break his own facility record of 205-0 the senior set at last year's meet. The mark was just four inches shy of the school record in 2000 by Jason Gervais, who went on to compete for Canada in the Olympics that summer. Finley's throw ranked third in the NCAA this season at the time, just 2 feet and 9 inches off the lead, and 13th in the world, including the fourth-furthest throw by an American. It was the third-furthest throw in Mountain West history.
"It was a big breakthrough mentally for him," UW associate head coach Paul Barrett said. "He has hit some of those in training, but he has kind of been forcing it in meets. He got a PR on his fifth throw and then kind of relaxed on that last throw and let it go. He stayed fluid with it and he knew as soon as he let it go."
DeStefano, a redshirt freshman, took down two records with a win in the women's steeplechase. Her time of 10:53.00 broke the facility record by 12 seconds, while her official altitude-converted time of 10:24.04 set a new school record by six seconds. Both records were previously held by Emily Higgins in 2009. DeStefano's official time ranks second in the MW this season and 44th in the NCAA. Thomas, a sophomore, was just as impressive with victories in the 100 and 200 meters. She ran 11.65 in the 100 to improve on her own school record of 11.68 and notched a personal-best 23.85 in the 200 to move to fourth in school history in the event. Both are the fastest in the MW this season.
Wyoming also got event wins from senior Taylor Gardner in the 400-meter hurdles, sophomore McKenzie Brogan in the 400 meters, senior Candace Wollert in the 800 meters and junior Holly Page in the 3,000 meters. Gardner ran a personal-best time of 58.14 to move into first in the MW and 15th in the NCAA in the event.
On the men's side, sophomore Scott Carter took first in the long jump at 23-6 1/4 and the triple jump at 49-2 1/4. Freshman Jordan Charles continued to cement his name in the Cowboy history books, as he finished second in two events. He ran personal bests of 10.75 in the 100 meters for 10th in UW history and 21.24 in the 200 meters for second in UW history. His 200-meter time is third in the MW this season. Junior Paul Thomas posted a personal-best 190-11 in the discus to rank 21st in the NCAA, while sophomore Tyler Anderson threw a personal-best 198-0 in the hammer. Thomas was third in his event and Anderson was second.
Four Straight for Wyoming's Finley
If three is good, four is better. Wyoming's Mason Finley was named the Mountain West Track and Field Male Athlete of the Week for an impressive fourth-consecutive week last Tuesday, when the conference office announced the award. Finley, who shared the week's honor with Colorado State's Trevor Brown, has claimed the accolade seven times this season.
The senior thrower helped Wyoming to a historic home meet at the Cowpoke Open on May 3. On his last attempt of the day, Finley uncorked a monster throw of 210-6 (64.17 meters) to win the discus with a new personal best and break his own facility record of 205-0 that he set at last year's meet. The mark was just 4 inches shy of the school record in 2000 by Jason Gervais, who went on to compete for Canada in the Olympics that summer. At the time, Finley's throw ranked fifth in the NCAA this season and 13th in the world, including the fourth-furthest throw by an American. The mark was also the third-best throw in the history of the conference.
Climbing the Outdoor Rankings
Seven Cowboys and Cowgirls rank in the NCAA's top 50 of five events. Senior Mason Finley is the top Cowboy at fifth in the discus with a toss of 210-6 at the Cowpoke Open on May 3. Senior Taylor Gardner is the top Cowgirl at No. 19 in the 400-meter hurdles with a 58.14 at the same meet. Wyoming leads the MW in five events currently, including Kereston Thomas leading the conference in the 100 and 200 meters.
In the most recent USTFCCCA outdoor team polls, the Cowboys are 10th and Cowgirls are 11th in the mountain region. During indoor, the Cowboys finished eighth and the Cowgirls were 12th.
10 More for the Top 10
The Cowboys and Cowgirls combined for 10 new top-10 marks at the Cowpoke Open on May 3, including a school-record 11.65 by sophomore Kereston Thomas in the 100 meters and a school-record 10:24.04 by redshirt freshman Audra DeStefano in the steeplechase. DeStefano's time also set a facility record at Louis S. Madrid Sports Complex, while senior Mason's Finley 210-6 in the discus was a facility record as well. The current Cowboy roster owns 16 individual top-10 outdoor marks, while the current Cowgirl roster has 25 individual marks. The Wyoming men and women set 29 new top-10 marks during the indoor season.
Wyoming track and field members who qualify will compete at the NCAA West Preliminaries on May 29-31 in Fayetteville, Ark.