Angela Kaplar will compete in the hurdles for the Utes.
Feb. 22, 2011
SALT LAKE CITY- The University of Utah women's track and field team hits the road this weekend for the Mountain West Conference Championships in Albuquerque, N.M. Competition is scheduled to start Thursday at 11 a.m. MDT and will run thru Saturday at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
"It's time to hold nothing back, be aggressive and place as high as we can in every event," said Utah head coach Kyle Kepler. "We have some women who are at or near the top of the conference standings and we have others that are trying to break into that group. We always talk about placing above where you enter the meet in those standings. If we can do that across the board than the team placing will take care of itself."
In 2010, the Utes finished fourth overall at the MWC Indoor Championships with 63 team points. Alyssa Abbott won the 3000m, which marked the first time a Ute has won the MWC Championship in that event. The distance medley relay had an amazing performance as they finished first place and set a new school-record with a time of 11:38.59.
This season the Utes have already set four school-records, including junior Langley Iverson's jump of 6-0.75, which qualified her for the NCAA Championships. Angela Kaplar has set school-records in the 55m hurdles and 60m hurdles, and currently ranks third in the conference. Amanda Mergaert broke her own school-record in the mile twice this season and ranks first in the MWC.
"I believe in this team and my staff," said Kepler. "I know they have all worked very hard to prepare for this weekend. We expect to do well and perform above our rankings in every event."
Alyssa Johnson will compete in the 400m and she currently has the seventh- best time in the MWC. Lucy Yates qualified for the 800m at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 2010; she enters this weekend's meet with the fifth best time in the conference. Last year's 3000m conference champion, Abbott comes in ranked third looking to repeat in the event. Brianna LeRoy comes into the MWC Championships ranked first in pentathlon with her 3,643 point performance at the 2011 Mountain States Games.
In the field events, Utah has four athletes ranked among the top 10 in the conference. Nikkie Rudder leads the Utes in the shot put and has the seventh best mark in MWC with 47-5.25. Alanna Nulph has the ninth best shot put throw in the conference with 45-10. Sophomore Anneli Stahl is ranked sixth in the conference for her mark of 60-9.25 in the weight throw event. Cynthia Sanchez is listed as seventh in the weight throw with a throw of 58-7.50.
On team comparison to last year
"I think we have a few more athletes ranked higher than we ever have. However, we are not quite as deep of a team in a few events. So we will have to get as many points as possible out of higher ranked athletes. Hopefully, our group of emerging athletes can continue to improve and potentially score a few points that will not necessarily be expected. "
On facility of MWC Championships
"This track is a banked 200 meter oval that is very fast. Coach Franklin and his staff run great meets and I don't expect anything different this weekend. Following our meet the U. S. Indoor National Championship meet will take place at the same facility. That says it all in terms of how good this facility is."
Mental preparations of team
"We always have athletes who are looking to improve. I believe we have always had very mentally tough teams...especially at this meet. However, there are always things that don't go as expected....good and bad. You get points you didn't think you could get and you give a few back when something doesn't go your way. That will happen when you keep score regardless if it's a regular season meet, conference meet, or the NCAA championships. Illness and injuries are part of the meet as well. You have to fight through adversity and generate your own momentum. No one is going to give it to you."
Team's improvements this season
"We have more athletes ranked in the top ten of the event performance list than we have ever had since Utah joined the MWC. I think that is a statement about how much this program has improved--especially in the last five years. We expect to perform well in several events at this year's meet. We expect to have several athletes score big points. Five years ago we just hoped to make a few finals."