Utes have high expectations for MPSF Championships.
Feb. 20, 2013
SALT LAKE CITY- The University of Utah women’s track and field team is gearing up for the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships this weekend. The event will begin Friday at 12 p.m. PT with the women’s weight throw at Dempsey Indoor Facility in Seattle, Wash.
The MPSF Championships consists of 15 teams including top-ranked Oregon, No. 8 Arizona State, No. 11 Arizona, and No. 16 Stanford as well as multiple athletes nationally ranked in individual events.
“I feel like we can have another break through meet this year,” Utah head coach Kyle Kepler said. “We are going to shake some things up this year. We think we have a chance to do some damage. We are competing against some of the best teams in the country. It should be an exciting meet and we hope we can compete well in our spots.”
Last year the Utes finished ninth overall in the meet, capturing one event title and setting two school records.
Senior Amanda Mergaert won the title in the mile, setting a then school record time. This season Mergaert has improved on that mark and is fresh-off a school-record performance, held at the same facility as this weekend’s meet [Dempsey Indoor], when she clocked a 4:35.35 at the Husky Invitational. Mergaert’s time currently ranks tenth in the country and is likely to earn an automatic NCAA Championships bid.
In 2012, the Utes also set a school record in the 4x400m relay. The team comprised of Lauryn McKay, Ali Eisenbeiss, Rosalie Waller and Lucy Yates set a record time of 3:45.27. With three of the four returning this year, look for another top performance in the relay.
Veteran leadership will also be pivotal for the Utes. Losing only two seniors to graduation last season, the Ute’s squad is deeper and more experienced than it has been in recent years. With 13 seniors on this year’s roster, experienced athletes in key events will help the Utes improve on the ninth-place finish from a year ago.
“Talent is great, but if you don’t have the nerves to deal with the pressure than it is tough,” Kepler stated. “Our veteran athletes know the competition is going to be fierce, but that it is an opportunity to compete at the highest level. They understand that this is rare. Being through meets like this before they will feel more comfortable and this is a great opportunity to compete well rather than feel all the pressure to perform a certain way.”