Indoor track takes hot streak into conference championships.
The Utah Valley University Wolverines and their Great West Conference foes will square off in the 2012 indoor track championships Feb. 26-27 in Chicago.
UVU hopes to replicate their recent successes. The Wolverines have been on a tear lately, setting four new school records at the Husky Classic and Boise State Invitational. The men’s 4 x 400 team of Michael McPherson, Jacob Brydson, Taylor Asay and Skylar Burningham, Ali Shields in the triple jump, Aleina Eisenhaur-Winger in the mile and Zandrea Nelson in the 400m all set new UVU records in their respective events.
“I thought we’d have some good times, but I wasn’t expecting it across the board to get school records,” head coach Scott Houle said. “I was impressed with it.”
On the men’s side, look for standout sophomore Michael McPherson to have a big tournament. As a freshman in 2009, McPherson was named the GWC Men’s Athlete of the year. This season he has fared well in the heptatholon and long jump, and is part of the men’s record setting 4 x 400 team.
Senior mid-distance runner Tim Rowberry is also garnering significant accolades this season. Rowberry won the mile, placed third in the 800m last season at the GWC Championships, and was named the GWC Athlete of the week earlier this season. Texas Pan-American senior Andy Lopez will provide tough competition for Rowberry. Lopez recently won the 800m at the Jeff Davis/McNeese Indoor meet, as well as placing fourth in the mile run.
Additionally, recently winning the GWC Athlete of the week was UVU sprinter Allah Laryea-Akrong. The junior from Ghana has broken several of his own school records this season, including those in the 200 and 60m races. He also won both of these events last season in the GWC championships. Expect the 200m to come down to Laryea-Akrong and Chicago State’s Jamal Ephraim this season.
For the women’s side, watch UVU’s Ali Shields. The sophomore hurdler has set and broken her own triple jump record for two consecutive meets, as well as been featured on popular reality show American Idol. For mid distances, Zandrea Nelson had an impressive start to the season. She set the school 400m record and will be countered by Houston Baptist’s Tramisha McGrew, who recently set a school record of her own.
The most competitive races of the meet may be the Women’s 60m sprint and 60m hurdles. Megan Burr has performed well in both races so far, but will be tested in the sprint by Houston Baptist’s Brittane Gaines. In the hurdles portion, Burr has recorded the fastest time so far in the conference, but Houston Baptist’s Amber Goodson will be just behind. Goodson posted a time just one tenth of a second slower.
The Wolverines were selected as the favorites to win the conference in both men and women’s polls conducted by the Great West Conference coaches prior to the season.
By Travis Leavitt