CEDAR CITY – The Southern Utah University men’s and women’s track and field teams will travel to Flagstaff, Arizona for the 2014 Big Sky Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships held Wednesday through Saturday.
Athletes competing had to qualify for the conference championship by hitting a certain mark or time set by the Big Sky Conference for their individual event.
A total of 11 universities will compete for the conference championship. Among them is the championship host, Northern Arizona University, and Weber State University, along with Eastern Washington University, Idaho State University, University of Montana, Montana State University, University of North Dakota, University of Northern Colorado, Portland State University and Sacramento State.
This is the second year the Thunderbirds have competed in the Big Sky Conference, after having previously competed in the Summit League.
“It’s a tough conference,” said Eric Houle, SUU track and field head coach. “If we can go in there and perform like we have before in other conference championships, it’s going to be a very good experience.”
The team has had a strong season and hopes to continue the momentum into this weekend.
Both the men’s and women’s team have won several conference championships in the past, but not since having joined the Big Sky Conference.
“If you look up our team this year on both sides, we are every bit as good as those years we won the conference championship before,” Houle said.
Big Sky Conference competition is more competitive than SUU faced in its previous conference, with teams such as the men’s 2013 NCAA Cross County National runner-up, Northern Arizona.
“We’re as a good of team as we have ever been,” Houle said. “We’re just going against more national powers than we have in the past.”
The men’s team will be led by its distance runners, freshman Mike Tate, sophomore Eric Sandall, and seniors Nate Jewkes and Ryan Barrus.
Sprinters to watch for will be senior Preston Myers and the 2013 Big Sky Conference Outdoor Track 100 meter dash champion, senior Shaun Murray.
“Our first two ever conference champions in any sport in the Big Sky from Southern Utah came from Preston Myers and Shaun Murray,“ Houle said.
The throws team will be led by sophomore Jayson Kovar.
“These guys are going to come in on the men’s side and be good,” Houle said.
Senior Kayla Kovar will lead the women’s side. She is currently ranked 4th in the NCAA in the hammer throw, 16th in the shot put and 20th in the discus.
Senior Shaye Maurer-Springall will represent the SUU women in the heptathlon and is currently ranking 22nd in the NCAA.
The women’s SUU distance team will be led by junior Ashley Hawks and senior Shelli Mogensen.
The heptathlon and decathlon will take place Wednesday and Thursday, while all other events will begin Friday and Saturday.
After conference championships have concluded, the top 48 athletes in each event will be selected to compete in the 2014 NCAA West Preliminary Round in Fayetteville, Ark., May 29-31.
Those who place well enough in the east and west preliminary rounds will advance to the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon on June 11 through 14.
Event details and ticket information
- When: Wednesday through Saturday, May 14-17
- Where: Northern Arizona University, Lumberjack Stadium, Flagstaff, Arizona
- Tickets: $8.00 for adults, $5.00 for children, two day pass: $14.00 for adults, $8.00 for children
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