Utah State Track And Field To Host WAC Outdoor Championships This Week

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State men and women’s track and field will play host to the 2009 Western Athletic Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships Wednesday-Saturday, May 13-16 at the Ralph Maughan Track Stadium in Logan, Utah. This is the first time in USU’s four years in the WAC that the Aggies have hosted the conference meet. It also is the first time since 1996 that Utah State has hosted a conference track meet when USU hosted the Big West Outdoor Track& Field Championships. That season, both the Aggie men and women’s teams won the team titles. “It is great to host the championships,” said USU veteran head coach Gregg Gensel. “It is nice for our athletes to be able to keep their routines and perform in front of a home crowd.” Going into the meet USU has five men with WAC-best marks in their respective events, while the Aggie women hold four No.1 spots in the WAC standings. For the men, senior Nick Karren (400h), senior John Strang (decathlon), junior Steve Strickland (3,000sc), sophomore Clint Silcock (high jump) and sophomore James Allred (800m) hold top spots. The women’s leaders include freshman Ruth Hilton (3,000sc), sophomore Sonia Grabowska (pole vault), junior Elaine Connolly (800m) and junior Erin Stratton (1,500m). Five men’s and eight women’s track and field teams will compete for the WAC championship. Boise State is the defending men’s champion while Louisiana Tech is the four-time defending women’s champion. Last year, Utah State’s men were second while the Aggie women were fourth. The USU men were the 2007 WAC Outdoor Champions. Heading into the championships, Utah State has six women with regional qualifying marks after this weekend in freshman Spela Hus (shot put), Hilton (3,000sc), Grabowska (pole vault), Stratton (1,500m), Connolly (800m) and senior Krista Larson (hammer throw). The Aggie men lead the WAC in the number of men with NCAA regional qualifying marks with 10 in freshman Bryce Hall (shot put), Silcock (high jump), Allred (800m), junior Dusty Ott (javelin) junior Casey Parker (high jump), junior Dylan Nielson (110m hurdles), Strickland (3,000sc) and seniors Karren (400m hurdles), Strang (decathlon) and Keith Williams (400m hurdles). “It is exciting to be at home regardless of the magnitude of the meet,” said senior high jumper Blake Hadfield. “The WAC Outdoor Championships are as big as it gets and its going to be nice that its in our own backyard.” The Aggies also return five 2008 WAC Champions in sophomore Chio Lopez (5,000m), Strickland (3,000sc), junior Heath Wing (10,000m), Strang (decathlon), Williams (400h) and senior Katie Thatcher (400h). “It is going to be great to be at home,” said Thatcher, the defending 400 hurdles WAC Champion. “It gives us that little bit of extra fire when we compete. It is also a great way to end my senior season at home.” Multi-events are schedule to begin at 1 p.m. Wednesday and will continue at the same time Thursday. The rest of the events will begin Friday, May 15 with field events starting at 12:30 p.m. with running events beginning at 2 p.m. On Saturday, field events get underway at 12:30 p.m. with running events starting at 5 p.m. The final event of the championships will start at 7:25 p.m. All-session tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for senior citizens and youth. Other ticket prices depend on the days. WAC students are free with student ID. For complete ticket information for the WAC Outdoor Championships, contact the USU Ticket Office at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, or call 1-888-USTATE-1 or (435) 797-0305. -USU-

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