14 UW Track and Field Athletes to Begin Competition at the NCAA Midwest Regional Meet

May 24, 2007


The University of Wyoming track and field program is traveling to Des Moines, Iowa today to compete in the 2007 NCAA Midwest Regional Invitational. This year, head track and field coach Don Yentes and his staff will take 14 athletes, who will be competing in ten different events, including the decathlon and womenʼs 4x400-meter relay.

UW athletes competing will be: Seniors Philemon Tanui (3,000-meter steeplechase), Shannon Popp (Hammer Throw), Amanda Hopper (4x400-meter relay), Blake Jackson (Triple Jump) and Olav Roe (Decathlon); juniors Jacob Shanklin (Hammer Throw), Gretchen Johnson (5,000-meter run), Maricel Da Costa (4x400-meter relay), Sharon Larrier (200-meter dash, 4x400-meter relay) and Shaylee Babbitt (100-meter hurdles); sophomores Adriana Friezen (100, 400-meter hurdles and 4x400-meter relay), Brad Charters (Hammer Throw) and Courtney Gougler (Discus); redshirt freshman John Alderson (Triple Jump) and freshman Allie Childers (4x400-meter relay alternate).

Of the 14 men and women making the trip this weekend, three will begin competition on Friday with a top 20 national ranking in their respective events. Tanui will compete in Des Moines as the 20th ranked 3,000-meter steeplechase runner in the country, while Roe comes in with a 19th overall national ranking in the decathlon. Shanklin, UWʼs only 2007 National Indoor qualifier, will try to use his national rank of number 20 to make another trip to a NCAA National Championship meet in 2007.

Due to the high number of Division I track and field athletes across the United States, the NCAA holds championship regional qualifying meets in order to limit the number of athletes who may attend the National Outdoor Championship meet each year. This year, the Midwest Regional qualifier is being held at the Jim Duncan Track and Drake Stadium at Drake University; the site that is also home to the annual Drake Relays.

"I hope we compete better than we did two weeks ago," said Yentes. "If we do, we should have people hit some good personal records."

This year, UW has almost doubled their roster of qualifiers from last season as they head into this weekendʼs regional meet. In 2006, the Cowboys and Cowgirls took eight athletes to Austin, Texas. This year, six of the 14 athletes attending the Midwest Regional Invite will be making a return trip from last season. Those athletes are seniors Jackson, Hopper and Tanui, juniors Babbitt and Larrier and sophomore Charters.

"If we compete the way I know we can, hopefully weʼll also be sending four or five people on to Nationals as well," said Yentes.

For those who qualify, the 2007 NCAA National Outdoor Track and Field Championships will be held in Sacramento, Calif., June 6-9.