LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The University of Wyoming men's and women's track and field teams begin the indoor portion of the 2015-16 campaign Friday when the squads host the Power Meet in Laramie. Field events start at 4 p.m. MT and running events at 5:30 p.m. on the Hager-LeBar Indoor Track in War Memorial Fieldhouse. Fans can follow live updates through Wyoming's official Twitter account @wyo_track.
The Cowboys return a strong contingent of All-Mountain West performers and squad members that, when mixed with a talented incoming class, have Wyoming's eyes set on a top-three finish at the conference meet. The Cowgirls are young, but now have a chance for several gifted underclassmen to step into larger roles and score points at the MW meet. Friday's meet will serve as a wrap-up to fall practices, before student-athletes train on their own during the Christmas break.
"This is an exciting meet because these kids have been training all fall," UW head coach Bryan Berryhill said. "It's hard to train week in and week out without competing. It'll be good from a coaching standpoint to see them put on that uniform and put all that training to use and hopefully hit some big marks. We'll use it as a barometer for where we are now and that'll tell us where we need to be at the end of February for the conference championships."
Cowboy Season Preview
Two seasons ago Wyoming fans enjoyed Mason Finley and Paul Thomas excelling in the throws. Last season it was the Pokes in the 800 meters making waves. This season's area where the Cowboys might be strong? Everywhere, according to Berryhill. Wyoming welcomes back five student-athletes that qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships and five that earned All-Mountain West honors. Those 14 returning letterwinners will help lead a group of 15 returning squad members and 17 newcomers.
"We have athletes across the board so the fun part of the season will be to see which event area emerges," Berryhill said. "It might be a different area at each meet, too, because of our depth. We have very good leaders in each group."
Sophomore Ricky Faure is Wyoming's top returner after earning All-MW in the 800 meters indoors and outdoors and advancing to the NCAA Regional in the event. Seniors Tyler Anderson, Amos Bowen and Scott Carter also qualified last season and will look to wrap up their career with all-time top-10 marks in their sights. Junior Jordan Charles rounds out UW's returning NCAA participants. He already owns all-time top-10 marks in five different events.
"I think our depth is going to be much improved on the men's side," Berryhill said. "What's really exciting is I think we are going to score points in almost every event from the jumps to the throws to the hurdles to the distance and middle distance."
Berryhill believes the Pokes have athletes capable of scoring in events across the board at the conference championships. Which he hopes will help Wyoming build on fifth place finishes at the MW indoor and outdoor meets.
"In the history of the Mountain West, Wyoming has only been in the top three one time and that was the first year of the conference ," Berryhill said. "So that's our goal this year and I think it's a very realistic goal. On the national level we want to continue to increase our numbers at the regional meet, but more importantly we want to continue to get kids to the national championships. We have quite a few kids that could accomplish that this season."
Cowgirl Season Preview
While the Cowboys enter the season with a strong grasp of leadership, the Cowgirls begin 2015-16 with several question marks. Wyoming lost the likes of Shreese Daniels, Erin Kirby and Holly Page to graduation and now welcome back just nine letterwinners. A group of 25 squad members will be looked upon to step into larger roles and lead the 23 newcomers on the team this season.
"Our women's side is quite a bit younger than our men's side," Berryhill said. "We are going to rely on these younger student-athletes to step in right away and score some points for us and that is not an easy thing to do. The conference is getting much better each year on the women's side. We will be asking a lot of this young team."
The NCAA qualifiers the Cowgirls do return are question marks as well. Junior Audra DeStefano set the school record last season in the steeplechase, but missed the last half of the cross country season last fall due to an illness. Likewise, senior Kereston Thomas had injuries last season that forced her to redshirt, which was after three All-MW accolades as a sophomore in 2013-14. Junior Kerry White was runner-up in the 800 meters outdoors last spring, but will redshirt this indoor season. But, like Berryhill said, that opens the door for other Cowgirls. He pointed to the sprints and jumps as an area Wyoming will be improved in with several newcomers.
"Even without Kereston, we have Ja'la Henderson, Jerayah Davis and Jordan Edmonds who are all in their first year in the program and can contribute," he said. "Our throws crew is really strong this year as well. It will be fun to see what Emelda Malm-Annan can do as a freshman."
Last Time Out: Fisher Earns All-America Honors in 800 at NCAA Meet
Wyoming's Harry Fisher ran 1:48.93 in the 800-meter semifinals at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships on June 10 to earn Second Team All-American. His time placed him 16th in the 24-man field at Hayward Field, but did not advance him to the final.
"I thought Harry had a solid run," UW head coach Bryan Berryhill said. "He could have got out better, but at the 600 mark he put himself back in contention. He was just too far back by then. As I reflect on everything, I'm really proud of Harry and how far he's come over the last two years. He really helped us resurrect our middle-distance program and I'm very grateful for everything he's done for the university."
Fisher, a graduate student, was sixth of the eight runners in his heat. The top two from each heat and the next two fastest times advanced, as he missed the cut by 1.7 seconds. Fisher was eighth through the first 400 meters of the two-lap race, but moved up to sixth by the 600-meter mark. That was as close as he could get, though. Fisher was slowed in the race after a bike accident the previous week resulted in stitches in his left knee.
Fisher became the 20th Cowboy to earn All-America accolades at the NCAA Outdoor Championships and the first to do so in a track event since Joseph Nzau in the 10,000 meters in 1982. Wyoming has had All-Americans at the last two outdoor national meets, after Mason Finley earned the distinction last year in the discus.
Track & Field Teams Honored for Academics
The University of Wyoming women's track and field program was named an All-Academic team on July 17 by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), while seven Cowboys and Cowgirls received individual All-Academic awards.
The Cowgirls as a team were chosen by way of a 3.15 cumulative grade-point average, as the program claimed the accolade for the third time in the last four seasons. Three Wyoming women earned the individual honor in Holly Page, Erin Kirby and Audra DeStefano. Page notched the top GPA by a Cowgirl with a 3.92 in elementary education.
For the Cowboys, Colin Herold paced a group of four with a 3.80 GPA while earning his master's in business administration. Harry Fisher, Damon Unland and Garrett Zans also claimed the individual accolade. Wyoming has had seven individual honorees for four-straight seasons.
Teams earn the USTFCCCA All-Academic award by carrying a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or better. Individually, a student-athlete must have compiled a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or better and met either of the following standards: for the indoor season, finished the regular season ranked in the national top 96 in an individual event or ranked in the top 48 in a relay; or for the outdoor season, participated in any round of the NCAA Championships.
Henderson Named Assistant Track & Field Coach
Wyoming head coach Bryan Berryhill announced July 6 that Whitney Henderson has joined his staff as an Assistant Coach and Director of Operations. Henderson began her duties the previous week, which include management of the day-to-day operations of the program.
Henderson comes to Laramie after a solid running career under Berryhill and Art Seimers at Colorado State University. She was All-Mountain West twice in cross country, including an eighth-place finish at the conference meet in 2012. She went on to earn All-Mountain Region honors that season as well. On the track, she was All-MW in 2013 after a runner-up finish in the 5,000 meters outdoors. She qualified for the NCAA West Preliminary as well that season in the 1,500 meters. She owned personal bests of 4:24 in the 1,500 meters and 16:38 in the 5,000.
A native of Hamilton, Mont., Henderson earned bachelor's degrees in political science and journalism from CSU in 2014. She was a five-time Academic All-MW honoree, while serving as CSU's SAAC vice president as a junior and president as a senior.
The Cowboys and Cowgirls will train on their own over the Christmas break, before returning to competition at the Air Force Collegiate Open on Jan. 8 in Colorado Springs, Colo.