The University of Nevada track & field team racked up 57.5 points in the third day of the 2009 WAC Outdoor Championships to take the top spot in the eight team field as the meet enters the final day of competition. Nevada started the day in third with five points after the multi-event heptathlon concluded Thursday.
Nevada leads the field with 62.5 points over second-place Hawai`i with 54. Defending champions LA Tech are sitting in third with 28.5, Idaho is fourth with 27 and Utah State is fifth with 26.5. Fresno State leads out the bottom three with 26, Boise State’s in seventh at 25.5 and New Mexico State is holding eighth at 23 points.
The Wolf Pack picked up four medals Friday, including two golds thanks to an incredible onslaught led by the distance runners. Nevada won both the 3,000-meter steeplechase and the 10,000-meters, while also seeing a combined five runners score in the two events. Senior Christa Avena (Las Vegas, Nev.) won a gold medal in the first women’s event of the day taking the steeplechase with a 10:53.57, marking the first time in four years that someone from Utah State did not win the event. Senior Tiffany Tandy (Henderson, Nev.) placed fourth in the event at 11:23.40, while fellow senior Mandy Russ (Nelson, New Zealand) also tallied a team point placing eighth with 11:57.10. Junior Natalia Jarawka (Sosnowiec, Poland) placed ninth (12:16.86).
It happened again in the final women’s event of the day, with redshirt-sophomore Amanda Moreno (Stockton, Calif.) winning the gold in the 10,000-meters, running 38:23.40, becoming Nevada’s first-ever winner of the event at a conference championship. The distance crew really dominated seeing three other runners score, taking the third, sixth and eighth-place spots. Sophomore Janet Martinez (Whittier, Calif.) won the bronze, running 38:46.55 while freshman Jordan Burke (Auburn, Calif.) placed sixth with 40:49.50. Jarawka ran 41:54.69, good enough to get eighth scoring for the team in this event.
The Silver and Blue also picked up some big points in field events, with two athletes scoring in the long jump. Freshman La Tijera Avery (Inglewood, Calif.) won a silver medal in the event but was just barely edged out of a win. Avery jumped 5.77-meters (18’11.25”) falling just short of LA Tech’s Quatisha Williams who jumped 5.78-meters (18’11.75”). RS-freshman Alexa Anderson (Reno, Nev.) took fifth with a jump of 5.5-meters (18’0.5”).
Sophomore Marissa Hammond (Pendleton, Ore.) added to the team point tally with a fourth-place throw of 43.77-meters (143’07”) in the javelin. Hammond, also a starting forward for the women’s basketball team, is one of eight Nevada athletes to have already qualified for the NCAA West Regionals. Junior Constance McAlman (Carson City, Nev.) placed sixth in the shot put with a throw of 13.55-meters (44’5.5”) while sophomore Alicia Echevarria (Winnemucca, Nev.) cleared a height of 3.55-meters (11’7.75”) in the pole vault.
“We had a very good afternoon, our performances were amazing,” head coach Shantel Twiggs said. “Our goal is going to be to come out and execute tomorrow, because we will have to hold off a lot of teams. There are more distance and field events, and the finals for all the sprints and hurdles, where we had a number runners qualify. We have a shot. If we can come out firing all at the same time like we did today, we have a really good shot. I just could not be more proud and excited for this team and what they have done so far in this meet.”
Competition continues on Saturday, the fourth and final day, with the women's hammer throw at 12:30 p.m. MT. The meet will conclude with the 4x400m relay which will kick off at 7:15 p.m. MT. Live stats for the entire meet can be viewed at the WAC's website: http://wac.org/otf/2009/index.htm.
This year is the first time Utah State has hosted the WAC Outdoor Championships, and Nevada is looking to win its first WAC Outdoor Title since joining the conference in 2001. Nevada won the Big West Outdoor Title in its final season in that conference in 2000 and has won two WAC Indoor Titles coming in 2003 and 2004. Last year when the meet was held at Boise State, Nevada finished fifth and the Wolf Pack has never finished better than second at the WAC outdoor meet.