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The Weber State University track and field teams hosted the Wildcat Open on Saturday, a meet which featured not only teams from Utah, but conference foes as well.
Both Idaho State University and Montana State University brought down some of their best runners, hoping to run some fast times and earn some bragging rights against their conference rivals. The Wildcats ran well enough to gain two more qualifiers on their home track.
“It is still very early in the outdoor season, so we are headed in the direction we want to be,” said WSU men’s head coach Dan Walker.
Both Brett Lechtenberg and Joe Maloney qualified in the 800-meter run Friday night at the Utah Spring Classic, but that didn’t stop them from securing themselves a spot in the conference meet in the 1,500-meter run. Maloney edged Lechtenberg by a second, as the two ran three minutes, 55.29 seconds and 3:56.22 respectively. Both finished behind eventual winner Cristian Soratos from MSU.
As for other distance events, Tyler Robinson ran well in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, finishing in sixth place with a time of 9:40.69.
The men’s 4-by-100-meter relay team started the meet off on the right foot, emerging with the victory after the team from Utah State University was disqualified, with a time of 41.25 seconds. Anthony Gregory won the high jump with a mark of 6:08.75, and Jonathan McUne finished second in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 15.10 seconds.
On the women’s side, the return of Summer Harper was a bright spot for the Wildcats. Harper, who qualified individually for the NCAA Cross-Country Championships last fall, has been battling a knee injury. She placed fifth in the 1,500-meter run, while Ellie Child place fourth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
Dual-sport athlete Regina Okoye, who just finished her second season with the WSU women’s basketball team, placed third in the triple jump. Tawnie Moore placed second in the 10-meter hurdles in a time of 14.30 seconds, while teammate Katy Hufford placed 12th in the same event.
Tiffany Hellstrom won the javelin throw, an event she had already qualified in, with a distance of 153 feet, 4 inches.
Even though the qualifying times and marks have gotten fewer with each meet, the coaches are confident that their athletes get better with each passing week. Many of the athletes have already qualified for the conference meet, so they are fine-tuning what they can to contribute come conference time.
“We just keep getting better every week, it seems like,” said WSU women’s head coach Jim Blaisdell after the Utah Spring Classic. “I’m very happy with how we keep cutting time off times that have already qualified. It’s early in the year, and we have some great meets ahead of us. We’re sitting in a great position right now; we just have to keep moving forward every week.”
The coaches said they are also grateful for all of the help and support they received as they hosted this meet. With all the work involved, Walker said, he was relieved the meet went as smoothly as it did.
“I’m really grateful for all the officials who came to help out,” Walker said. “It takes a mini army to run an event like this. Everyone on the coaching staff does their part of conducting the meet too. Putting on a meet like this takes a lot of effort, and it went off without a hitch.”
The Wildcats will return to the track this weekend. Some of them will head to the Long Beach Invitational, while others will participate in the Mt. SAC Relays.