Utes head to New Mexico Invitational this weekend.
Jan. 22, 2013
SALT LAKE CITY- The University of Utah women's track and field team is gearing up for the New Mexico Invitational this weekend. The event will be held at the Albuquerque Convention Center beginning at 4 p.m. MT on Friday with the women's weight throw.
"The facilities at New Mexico are outstanding," Utah head coach Kyle Kepler said. "It is a banked 200m Mondo track that is extremely fast. New Mexico has hosted several Mountain West Conference Championship meets, the U.S Championships, and they were just awarded the 2014 NCAA Indoor Championships. There will be several teams from several divisions (D-I, D-II, D-III, NAIA, and junior colleges). New Mexico, New Mexico St, and us will be the D-I teams, however, Adams St (D-II) and Abilene Christian (NAIA) have great track traditions, so I expect they will have some quality athletes."
Making their season debuts this weekend will be the Utah distance athletes. Senior Amanda Mergaert is looking to pick up right where she left off from the 2012 cross country season when she earned All-American honors at the NCAA Championships. Sophomore Susannah Hurst will also compete in the distance events for the Utes. Hurst qualified for the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships and will lead the team in the 5000m race.
Coming off a first-place performance last weekend in the weight throw, Cynthia Sanchez will lead the throws group against a very competitive field this weekend. Alongside Sanchez will be senior Anneli Stahl, Aoife Hickey, Destanae Howerton-Davis, Sosina Salima and senior Amanda Pais who will set the tone for the meet as they compete in the first scheduled event of Friday.
The sprints group also suffered a few injuries last weekend and will rely on underclassmen to step up and fill the gaps. With a solid group of talent on the Utes roster, there will be little setback for the team.
"Fortunately, the area where we have sustained a few injuries, we have some pretty good depth," Kepler said. "Lauryn McKay should be back racing in two weeks. Jolley's injury was not as bad as we initially feared. We think that she will be back either at Boise or Washington depending on how well her rehab progresses. We will learn more about McMurray's injured Achilles today. We will hope for the best, but I will be honest and say that it is the one I am worried most about in regard to how it looked when it happened."
Posting a solid performance at their first meet, the Utah high jumpers look to increase their marks this weekend. Senior Langley Iverson made her first appearance after taking the 2012 season off due to injury. Iverson finished third at the Bronco Invitational, and with a meet behind her, she looks to get back to her NCAA Championships qualifying marks that she had in 2011. Freshman Kailey Hansen finished second in her first collegiate meet, and will build on that performance this weekend.
"All of the high jumpers had a great practice on Monday," Kepler stated. "We started to see flashes of the Langley Iverson of 2011."
"As far as the team goes, we have to start to see some improvement across the board," Kepler continued. "Consistency, tactics, and position in races are areas that need to get better with each event. When that happens it is almost always followed by personal bests. Last week we had some good performances and we had some athletes who made freshmen or first race mistakes. We need to learn from those errors and begin to compete with confidence. I expect this to happen because this team trains hard and is focused on the process of improving from week to week."