College track and field: Wildcats eye Big Sky titles

Feb 23 2012 - 10:37pm

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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- The annual Big Sky Conference Men's indoor track and field championship gets under way today inside the Walkup SkyDome on the campus of Northern Arizona University.

The men's heptathlon and women's pentathlon kicks off the meet on this morning, followed trials in the 60 meter dash, 60 meter hurdles, 200, 400 and 800 meters as well as finals in the 5,000 meters and distance medley relay.

Coach Dan Walker will have 14 athletes in 22 events at the conference meet. Injuries have depleted his team a bit. The 'Cats were picked to finish third in the 2012 Big Sky coaches preseason poll. But Walker likes who he had and says they are a gritty bunch.

"We are few in number, but the ones who have qualified have each had an outstanding season," said Walker. "Northern Arizona and Sac State will battle it out for the title."

Sacramento State is the defending men's indoor champion. Weber State has won five Big Sky men's indoor titles with the last one coming back in 2004.

The Weber State women were picked to finish second in the 2012 Big Sky coaches preseason poll. Coach Jim Blaisdell will be taking 17 qualified athletes in 31 events into this weekend's championship.

"Sacramento State is favored, and they should be. They are really strong in the sprints, hurdles, jumps and throws. On paper, we look to be right in the thick of things but it's not contested on paper, so we are going to have to have season, or near season bests, in order to win," Blaisdell said.

"The one good thing we have going is that we are completely healthy, and that has been a key to our success the last couple of weeks."

Sacramento State is the two-time defending Big Sky women's indoor champion. Weber State has won eight Big Sky women indoor titles, with the last one coming in 2007.

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