Senior Kristy Slade will be called upon to take a leadership role this season.
Head Coach Lisa Archer, formerly Lisa Collet, is in her second season as head coach for the track and field program. Archer was an assistant to long time Head Coach Mike Jones before taking over last year.
The Utes broke several school records last year and scored more points than in the previous years under Archer's guidance. "It was an awesome year," says Archer. "We made a lot of noise and set many school and personal records, while accomplishing several things in a short amount of time."
Archer contributes the success to creating a championship atmosphere for the athletes. The coaching staff stressed the importance of the athletes having team spirit, commitment and confidence in themselves and knowing that their coaches have confidence in them as well. An aggressive coaching style helps build confidence, team spirit and dedication was the theory Archer and her staff stressed. "Our athletes really matured," says Archer. "We tried to develop the concept of team track and field."
To help increase the scores in the different events and for the meets, Archer incorporated the pole vault as a full-time event. Utah has never officially competed in the event, and the addition contributed greatly to higher team scores and a more competitive Utah team.
In hopes of duplicating and then building on last year's success, the coaching staff is ready for the task at hand. Archer, as well as Appell is stressing the importance of team bonding, and the criticalness of a positive team spirit. In order to develop unity she encouraged participation in several team acts. Athletes were involved in several team and University events. "Through care and communication, our athletes know what is expected of them and will be prepared for the upcoming season," says Archer.
For the Utes to be a success this season, they'll have to replace several major contributors from a year ago. The Utes lost Erianne Allen, Audrey Kiser and April Jackson to graduation. Allen was a member of the school record 1,600-meter relay and the 400-meter relay teams, along with being the record holder in the heptathlon (5,264 points) and an NCAA qualifier in the event. The academic and all-conference athlete will contribute back to the team this year as a member of the Archer's coaching staff. Kiser holds the school record in the shot put (48' 8 ¼"), while Jackson was a key competitor in the high jump and hurdles.
Archer is expecting seniors Kristy Slade and Brook LoBue to serve as team leaders. Slade will be the team's top competitor in the pentathlon, heptathlon and long jump. Last year, Slade posted a new pentathlon record with 3,775 points, en route to finishing second at the MWC Indoor Track and Field Championships.
After transferring from Fresno State, LoBue placed second in the 2002 MWC Indoor and Outdoor Championships. She holds the school record in the pole vault (13' 5 ¼"), and was an NCAA qualifier for both indoor and outdoor track and field. LoBue will lead the pole vaulters this year.
New to the Utes this season is freshman Liz Gifford, who is a top recruit from St. George, Utah, in the heptathlon. Gifford is expected to make an immediate impact on the program's success. In addition to Gifford, freshmen Sidni Taylor, Becky Riddle and Nicole Mancinelli should build up the Utes' points. Taylor will compete in the heptathlon, while Riddle vies in the throwing events and Mancinelli competes in the high jump.
Archer has great expectations for growth and development for the the 2003 Utes. "We have a lot of room for improvement, despite being successful last season," says Archer. "Our conference is strong and through our recruiting and teamwork, we should accomplish our goals."