Bronco Tracksters Off To Good Start

Five Bronco track stars came away winners and Boise State qualified six athletes for the NCAA Regionals in the prestigious Hornet Invitational today in Sacramento. The biggest Bronco star of all, Mattias Jons, did not compete.

Going into the opening event of the outdoor season, it was known that the Boise State men would be strong. However, the Bronco women had a great meet this afternoon as well. Right off the bat, no less than six Broncos qualified for the NCAA Regionals.

All-American Mattias Jons, who finished second in the nation in the hammer throw last year, mysteriously did not compete. At this time, there is no word from Boise State on his status or why he did not participate today.

With Jons out of the competition, Boise State freshman Simon Wardhaugh, who was favored to win the discus at the Hornet, stepped in for his teammate and won the hammer throw instead over California's Nate Rolfe. Not only did he win the event; he also qualified for the NCAA Regionals with his effort. Wardhaugh recorded a throw of 202 feet, six inches while Rolfe was well short with a 194-05 effort. Then, Staffan Jonsson stepped up and won the discus with an amazing career-best 195 feet, 1 inch, defeating his next closest competitor by 15 feet. Boise State's Eric Matthias finished eighth in the event.

Boise State's Scott Viafore and Nate Putnam, the top returning javelin throwers in the nation, were shocked by a pair of California throwers, and it wasn't even close. Ryan Young of the Golden Bears heaved the spear 232 feet 10 inches, teammate Paul Tienert's best was 230-07, while Viafore (208-06) and Putnam (208-03) were far back in third and fourth places, respectively. Viafore and Putnam still automatically qualified for the NCAA Regionals with their efforts.

Two other Bronco men qualified for the NCAA Regionals. Ty Axtman won the 1,500 meters with a solid 3:51.5 and junior Erik Whitsett came out of nowhere to finish third in the shot put, far exceeding his expectations.

Idaho's Kevin Friesen was favored to win the 3,000, but Bronco sophomore Wijnand Rikenberg beat Friesen by a full five seconds. Meanwhile, Bronco senior Antoine Echols gave favorite Weber State's Jed Casper all he could handle in the 400 but had to settle for 2nd by 2/10th's of a second.

The Bronco 4 x 100-meter relay team of Nick Cunningham, Antoine Echols, Lee Marks and Andre Summers finished third. Boise State did suffer a major disappointment when its 4 x 400-meter relay team, expected to challenge Cal for 1st place, did not finish.

For the Bronco women, Becky Guyette captured the title in the 3,000 by 10 seconds with a time of 9:50.89. 10:11.64. Senior Robin Nixon was fourth. Freshman Elena Kafourou, one of the top junior jumpers in the world prior to coming to Boise State, placed 2nd in the triple jump with a mark of 40-04.25 and 2nd in the long jump. Kafourou was beaten by Cal's Qadriyyah Abdullah by just half an inch.

Freshman Annika Hjelm, a three-time Swedish junior national champion, finished 2nd in the hammer behind Nevada's Caira Hane and teammate Amber Tavares placed 6th. Hjelm's mark of 181 feet, 9 inches was good for yet another automatic Bronco in the NCAA Regionals. Tavares, a former Caldwell High School star, was also an impressive 2nd in the shot put with a heave of 44 feet, 5.5 inches.

Senior Jackieann Morain led three Broncos in the top six of the 400-meters. Morain was third with a time of 55.84. Nataucha Lowry and Kayleen McDowell tied for 5th.

The Broncos will be on the road again next week for the Stanford Invitational, which takes place Friday and Saturday.

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