Monday, February 21, 2011

WAC Indoor Track Championships Preview

Boise State is set to host the Western Athletic Conference Indoor Track Championships this week at Jackson’s Track in Nampa.  The Utah State men are slight favorites over Boise State while once again Louisiana Tech is the team to beat on the women’s side.

This article will focus on the men’s competition—why Utah State is the favorite, who the key players are, and how Boise State might wrest the title away from the Aggies in their final year of competition against them.

For years, Boise State’s strength has been the field events.  The Broncos have produced some of the top competitors in the nation in Jarred Rome, Gabe Wallin, Keron Francis, Pontus Thomee, Simon Wardhaugh and Ryan Grinnell are just a few of the former Boise State student-athletes that have been successful on the national stage.

With the hire of J.W. Hardy, I’m hoping the tradition Boise State has established in the field events continues, but that also the level of success that field athletes have enjoyed begins to spread over to the track.  Hardy’s group was able to capture the WAC Cross Country Championship last fall and that’s a good start.  For some reason, however, those same cross country athletes that produced a championship there have been unable to carry over that ability to the track season.

For example, in the 1500 meters, it is Utah State and not Boise State that has three of the top five times in the conference.  USU is set to score 23 points in an event that should be controlled by the Broncos.  The Aggies are expected to get another 19 points in the 3,000, another event that the harriers from Boise State should lead.  Given the fact that the Bronco cross country team bested Utah State just a few months ago, there aren’t too many conclusions that can be drawn—1)  The Utah State long distance runners have trained better  in the last few months or 2) the Boise State runners prefer running in the hills than on a straight track.

No matter the reason, the Aggie long distance stars have come roaring back with a vengeance and are out to prove that the Boise State cross country victory was a fluke.  If USU is allowed to score 42 points in those two events, it will go a long way towards crowning them WAC champions.  The Bronco runners simply cannot let that happen.

The long distance competitions are just the beginning of the Aggies’ strength.  They are solid throughout the track events, and are just enough of a force in the field events to take the championship.  Utah State is slated to score 18 points in the 200, 17 in the 800-meters and 16 in the 60-meter dash.  Now you have 93 points in those five events alone and it’s pretty easy to see why I say they are the favorites. 

The real frustrating thing if you’re Boise State is seeing how well the Aggies do in the field events.  That is where the Broncos are supposed to make up the gap.  But as stated above, Utah State has just enough stars and does just well enough to have the overall edge on Boise State.  Clint Silcock just set a personal best of 7-feet, -4.25 inches in the high jump and is the favorite this week.  John Johnson is seeded second in the pole vault.  Damian Szade is the “fly in the ointment” that disrupts an otherwise 1-2-3-4-5 Boise State finish in the long jump.

One area that I’ve already noticed improvement in the Boise State team is in the hurdle races, both men’s and women’s.  You can see Rolando Trammel of the Broncos as the #1 seed and Justin Maines third.  Boise State is also building a solid group in the 400—Manoah Wesson has the second-fastest time in the conference and Jeff Daw is third.  That translates to 14 points for those two.  The trio of Paul Robertson, Rolando Trammel and Karrie Butler is also in range.  Currently, Robertson is seeded sixth for another team point but imagine how the Broncos could do if those three could all score for the Broncos this weekend.  It could be a key race to watch if the Broncos are to capture first place.

Another area that Boise State could potentially gain points in is the 5,000 meters.  As you can see, no Broncos have run this distance in the track season but obviously, several are capable with the Cross Country WAC title.  Boise State could land 6-7 more points here with good performances this weekend.

In the WAC leaders below, you will notice Kurt Felix appearing several times.  He won’t participate in all the events this weekend but rather the ones that Coach Hardy believes he can make the most impact in.  Felix is the latest in a long run of incredible multi-event athletes at Boise State and will score heavily.  But he won’t get points in every event you see him listed in below.  That does, however, bring up another point.  Felix has a teammate this year participating in the heptathlon, Anthony Belcher.  Utah State and Idaho always have two multi-event stars and it’s good to see Boise State join them.  It was always disappointing to see a Bronco win the event in years past only to have Utah State ahead in team points.
So there you have the analysis in a nutshell.  Thursday, the heptathlon and pentathlon will take center stage, with the rest of the events getting underway Friday and Saturday.  Single-session tickets for Thursday are $5 for students, senior citizens and youth and $8 for adults.  This weekend, single-session tickets are $6 for students, $8 for seniors and youth and $12 for adults.  An all-session pass can be purchased for $10 for students, $15 for seniors and youth and $20 for adults.

Watch this blog for a schedule of events and further information and results. 


200 meters

400 meters

800 meters

1,500 meters

3,000 meters

5,000 meters

60-m hurdles

4 x 400-meter relay

High Jump

Pole Vault

Long Jump

Triple Jump

Shot Put

Weight Throw