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Amber Henry and Natasha Powell put their names in the record books this past weekend as the Weber State University track and field team continued its indoor track season. The Wildcats competed in both the Mountain States Games and the University of Washington Invitational.
Overall, between the men’s and women’s teams, 14 runners achieved qualifying times and marks. Those marks will allow the athletes to participate in the Big Sky Conference Championships in Flagstaff, Ariz., later this winter.
Henry set her record at the UW Invitational in the one-mile run Friday. She ran four minutes and 44.09 seconds, besting the old record, set back in 1995, by nearly three seconds.
Henry was the second-fastest collegiate runner. She finished fourth overall in a race that featured multiple U.S. champion Lauren Fleshman. Jamie Stokes also competed in the mile, finishing in 4:52.36, which put her at the fifth-best time ever in the mile.
“Amber is getting back into the kind of shape that she was in last year,” said WSU distance coach Paul Pilkington. “It was nice to see her get the school record. She had to go to the front and lead because the race went out slow.”
Powell put herself at the top of the record list with a weight throw of 56-6.75 while competing in the Mountain State Games. Powell finished second in the event after just being beaten by another thrower from the University of Utah.
“We are just a much better team than we were when we came up here the first time (two weeks ago),” said WSU coach Jim Blaisdell. “It’s fun to have a meet like this where our athletes can compete like this on a Friday and then come back and compete again the next day on the Saturday.”
As the season has progressed, WSU coaches Dan Walker and Blaisdell have seen improvements across the board. But after 26 seasonal bests from both the men’s and women’s teams, they said they are excited to see just how fast the athletes can be by the end of the year.
“(Having 26 seasonal bests) says a lot about the team right now,” Walker said. “It says that we are getting better. We are definitely a much better team than we were two weeks ago.”
Some of the other highlights from the weekend were the events the Wildcats ended up winning in a meet which featured many Big Sky competitors. Isaac Akers ran away from the field in the 400-meter dash, while Stetson Smith got the win in the 800-meter run.
The men’s team was all about the speed, as Dustin Martin won the weight throw. He was one of the 14 athletes to qualify for the conference meet with his performance.
Jerica Wilson’s win in the 400-meter dash made it a clean sweep for the Wildcats in that event. She was also in the 4-by-400-meter relay that won as well. That team consisted of Wilson, Amanda Alston, Emily Black and Katherine Wishmeyer. Alexandria Van Halder won the 60-meter dash, ending a successful meet for both teams.
Both teams will return to the track as they head up to Boise, Idaho, to take part in the Boise State Invitational on Feb. 8.