Track Team Will Contend For WAC Championships

Make plans now to see the 2007 WAC Track & Field Championships, hosted by Boise State. The defending men's champion Broncos will contend for the title, and the Boise State women will be a factor as well. Action gets underway Friday morning at Jackson's Track in Nampa.

Boise State hosts the 2007 Western Athletic Conference Track & Field Championships this Friday and Saturday at Jackson's Track in Nampa.  The Broncos will be one of the top three contenders for both men's and women's WAC titles.


Cal State-Northridge, however, is the favorite in both competitions this weekend.  Northridge is a participating non-league member in track and field.  The Northridge men are expected to garner 171 points to Idaho's 162 in men's action and 136 points in the women's competition.  Boise State, 14th in the nation last year, is expected to finish third with 135 points, while the Bronco women are the closest challenger to Northridge with 116 expected points.  Louisiana Tech is also expected to contend on the women's side with 95 points.


Northridge will score heavily in the long jump as five jumpers are ranked in the WAC's top ten, led by Rikabdi Fekuzika. Anthony Brown and Thomas Ross provide a 1-2 punch in the 60-meter hurdles.  Another key event is the triple jump, where Northridge has three more top competitors.  Zacharias Arnos of Boise State is the favorite and teammate Wendell Lawrence could also score well for the Broncos.  Northridge and Utah State will battle it out in the 4 x 400-meter relay.  Justin Johnson is the favorite in the high jump—Boise State's David Walden and Heigo Nurmsalu will have to score big points here if the Broncos hope to knock off Northridge and repeat as champions.  Another key competition between Northridge and Boise State takes place in the Heptathlon, with Johnson and Nurmsalu the clear favorites there.


It's a test between two schools in the mile and an important battle between two contenders for the men's title.  Ty Axtman and Cody Eaton of Boise State have the two best times this year, but Michael Thompson, Kevin Merkling and Jeremiah Johnson of Idaho all have a chance to win.


Russ Winger leads the charge for the team from Moscow.  With the graduation of Boise State's top weight throwers, Winger has moved to the top of the nation in the shot put.  Boise State's best hope there is Erik Whittsitt.  Matthew Wauters and Winger have the two best throws in the WAC in the discus with Simon Wardhaugh of Boise State challenging those two.  Idaho's Benjamin Mimoun and Sam Michener have the two fastest times in the 200 so the Vandals should score heavy there.  Bastien Tardy and Kevin Potter will try to hold off Boise State's Caleb Cazier in the 800—all are within a second of each other.  Kevin Frieson of Idaho is the favorite in the 3,000. 


It will be a tight race between Northridge and Idaho.  The Broncos must find new ways to score points if they are to make up the sizable difference on the two front-runners.


On the women's side, Latonia Wilson of Louisiana Tech is the favorite in the 60 meters but Northridge has five of the top ten and should rack up the points.  Wilson is also the 200-meter favorite with Megan Olivetti being Boise State's best hope in the event.  Olivetti is also a threat at 400 meters, where Tech's Nina Gilbert heads into the Championships with the fastest time and Northridge has a strong presence as well.  A dual for the WAC title in the 800 between Tech's Miriam Barnes and Boise State's Kayleen McDowell will be exciting to watch.  The Lady Techsters are also favored in the 4 x 400 relay.


Boise State's Theodora Xylaki is the favorite in the high jump where Hawai'i hopes to have its best event.  Eleni Kafourou is the long jump favorite, with Northridge expected to score heavily with four top contenders.  Kafourou will battle New Mexico State's Sandra Anane in the triple jump.  Eleni Ypsilanti hopes to capture the WAC title in the weight throw. 


Utah State's Jennie Twitchell and Amy Egan are the favorites in the mile although Boise State and Idaho both have strong hopes for points.  Becky Guyette and Breanne Sande carry the banner in the mile for the Broncos.  Guyette's best event is the 3,000 where she is favored.  Idaho's Rheat Richter is the favorite is in the 5,000.


Idaho's Melinda Owens is the runaway favorite in the pole vault, having cleared 15 feet, 5.75 inches this year.


Depth is the determining factor in track championships and this is what makes Northridge the favorite over Boise State.  Northridge only has two favorites, Ashleigh McGrew (60-meter hurdles) and Jere' Summers (shot put), going into this weekend, but is expected to score points in every event.  The Broncos meanwhile, are favored to win four events, but are not forecast to do well in the sprints, the pole vault nor the weight throw.  Weakness in those five events would put a serious damper on WAC title hopes for Boise State. 


Action gets underway Friday morning at 10 with competition in the first four events of the Heptathlon--60-meters, long jump, shot put and long jump.  Finals will be contested in the men's weight throw, pole vault and long jump and the women's high jump, shot put and long jump Friday afternoon.  Running events begin Friday at 5 p.m., with finals slated in six events.  The WAC Championships conclude Saturday with a full day of action at Jackson's Track.


All-Session Tickets will be $20 for adults, $15 for youth and senior citizens and $10 for students.  Tickets for single sessions can be purchased for $12 by adults, $8 for senior citizens and $6 for students and youth.


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