Wildcats heading to Texas prelims

May 21 2013 - 11:31pm


Weber State will have 11 student-athletes competing at the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field West Preliminary Championships this weekend in Austin, Texas.

The top 48 athletes in each event in the western United States qualify for the West Preliminary. The top 12 times/marks at both the East and West preliminary meets will qualify for the NCAA Championships June 5-8 in Eugene, Ore.

This week's meet will run Thursday through Saturday on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin.

Utah State sends 17 competitors to the regional, while Southern Utah will send eight and BYU will send 42 athletes. Utah will send 10 women to the competition, while Utah Valley will send five athletes.

On the men's side, the Wildcats have eight athletes competing in four events and are coming off a third-place finish at the Big Sky Championships. Three Wildcats -- John Coyle, Mike Hardy and Trevor Ricks -- will compete in the 3,000-meter steeplechase Friday evening.

Ricks, who won the title in the Big Sky meet two weeks ago with a time of 8:47.10, ranks sixth in the West region in the event. Hardy is just behind him in seventh place and Coyle is 38th.

Two more Wildcats, Isaac Akers and Dustin Durfee, will compete in the 400-meter hurdles with the first round set for Thursday. Akers, who finished second in the event at the conference meet, enters this week with the 22nd best time in the West at 51.54, which also ranks as the fifth best in WSU history. Durfee was fourth in the conference meet and sits in 36th place in the West region.

The Wildcats will also compete in the 4x400 meter relay on Saturday, the last event of the meet. The Wildcat squad of Akers, Josh Peterson, Durfee, and Matt White enter the meet ranked 20th in the West region. They captured the Big Sky title with a time of 3:09.77, the fifth best in WSU history. That mark is just two seconds off the school record.

Weber State's lone field entry on the men's side is Cylor Morgan who will compete in the long jump on Thursday. Morgan, who won the Big Sky title in indoor and outdoor track this season, enters this week ranked 21st in the region at 24-11.25, the third best in Weber State history.

"We're looking forward to this meet and hope we are able to get a few athletes qualify for nationals," said WSU men's coach Dan Walker. "Our team has been competing at a high level and we hope that continues. All three of the steeplechase runners have a good chance to qualify for nationals and so does Cylor Morgan in the long jump. We also have chances in the other events. This is an especially good meet for our younger athletes to give them a chance to compete on a national stage and gain experience for the future."

On the women's side, the Wildcats will have three athletes entered in two events. The star of the Wildcat squad this outdoor season has been Amber Henry, who made history by winning three events at the Big Sky championships.

Henry, a native of Mountain View, Wyo., won the 1,500 meters, steeplechase and 5,000 meters and was named MVP of the meet. She is currently ranked 12th in the West region in the 1,500 meters, but will not compete in that event at the preliminary meet.

Henry will run in the 3,000 meter steeplechase along with teammate Laken Hintze on Friday. Henry currently ranks second in the West and third in the nation in the event. Earlier this season she posted a time of 9:51.55 in the event, the second fastest in Weber State history. Hintze is 42nd overall in the West region at 10:33.99.

The only other event for the Wildcat women's squad will be the javelin where senior Tiffany Hellstrom will compete on Saturday. Hellstrom finished fifth at the Big Sky meet in the event and enters this week ranked 14th in the West region. Earlier this season she posted a mark of 160-10 in the event, which ranks as the fourth-best in school history.

"Amber has had an outstanding outdoor season and we certainly have big hopes that she should qualify for the national meet," said WSU women's coach Jim Blaisdell. "She is such a great competitor and has been running very well. Laken had a real nice improvement at the conference meet to qualify for this meet and it will be great opportunity for her to compete. Tiffany Hellstrom has a great chance to advance to the national meet. She has battled injuries throughout her career but has come back really strong this outdoor season for us. We're looking forward to competing this week."

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