The Boise State track and field team kicks off the outdoor season tomorrow at the Hornet Invitational in Sacramento, the site of this year's NCAA National Championships. The meet gets underway at 10 tomorrow at 11 A.M. Mountain Time with a good group of Broncos participating.
All-American Mattias Jons, who finished second in the nation in the hammer throw last year, leads the Bronco charge. Jons owns the school record with a throw of 227-10. Boise State is rapidly becoming known as a national power in the field events, and Jons will by no means be alone tomorrow. Other Broncos expected to fare well are sophomores Nate Putnam and Scott Viafore in the javelin and freshman Simon Wardhaugh and seniors Eric Matthias and Staffan Jonsson in the discus. Putnam and Viafore were among the competitors in the NCAA Championships last year won by Boise State's Gabe Wallin. The Bronco duo are the top returning javelin throwers in the nation. Wardhaugh (62.83 meters) is seeded 1st and he, along with Matthias (58.25) and Jonsson (57.03) hope to head off Idaho's Russ Winger (58.54). Jonsson qualified for the NCAA Championships in the event three years ago.
Other Broncos expected to do well include Ty Axtman and Cody Eaton (former Centennial High School star) in the 1,500 meters and Kyle Christofferson in the 200. Axtman won the mile at the WAC Indoor Championships and has run a 4:06.62 1,500. Eaton is seeded 2nd in a closely bunched field while Boise State junior Brandon Christofferson is seeded 10th. Brother Kyle Christofferson won the WAC 400 meters indoors for the Broncos. He'll also compete for Boise State on the 400 and 1600-meter relay teams. The Boise State 400-relay squad is favored in Sacramento.
Bronco senior Antoine Echols will try to make up for a disappointing day at the Indoor Championships last month beginning tomorrow. He's expected to battle Weber State's Jed Casper for the 400-meter title in the Hornet. Echols is one of the Broncos in the meet's top six seeds in the 200 as well. Del Bates is favored with a 20.89 time, while Echols has run a 21.11. Boise State's Nick Cunningham (21.20) and Andre Summers (21.21) should also place high. Cunningham, a transfer from UC-Santa Barbara, is second in the UCSB record books in the 200 and Summers won the WAC 100-meter outdoor title one year ago. Senior Mark Welsh (8:25.02) and sophomore Wijnand Rikenberg (8:25.65) should gang up on Idaho's Kevin Friesen (8:23.87) in the 3,000 meters. Senior Roger White will be one of the favorites in the high jump as well.
Senior Robin Nixon will be running in the 3,000 meters for the Bronco women. Nixon took 1st in the 5,000 at the Indoor Championships in February and qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 3,000 Steeplechase in 2003. Former Melba High School standout Becky Guyette is seeded 2nd in the 3,000 with a time of 9:55.36 while Nixon is seeded 3rd. Freshman Elena Kafourou, one of the top junior jumpers in the world prior to coming to Boise State, also will be a force in the long jump. The Bronco 4 x 100-meter relay team and the 4 x 400-meter unit will challenge the University of California for the Hornet title in those races. A quartet of Bronco women will challenge Loni Perkins of Montana (53.99) and Brook Turner of California (54.82) in the 400 meters. Senior Jackieann Morain has a best of 54 flat, while former Vallivue High School star Nataucha Lowry has run a 56.85, Kayleen McDowell a 56.92 and Megan Olivetti a 57.06.
Freshman Annika Hjelm, a three-time Swedish junior national champion, is the meet's #3 seed in the hammer for the Broncos, while Boise State's Breanne Sande has the fourth fastest time in the 1,500 meters. Idaho's Mary Kamau is the solid favorite with a time 15 seconds faster than any of the other competitors. Freshman Kendra Hernandez, seeded ninth, will also compete in the 1,500 for the Broncos.