Bronco Track Teams Have Much To Do

Boise State has been fighting uphill to defend its WAC Commissioner's Cup since the Bronco women's golf team finished last. The last two hopes for Boise State are the men's and women's track and field teams, which will be competing in the WAC Championships this week.

Much is at stake for Boise State in this week's Western Athletic Conference Track & Field Championships, which get underway Wednesday in Fresno, California.  The Bronco men go for their second consecutive WAC title, while the women will  strive to show continued improvement in the championships.

 

If the Broncos are to repeat, they'll have to topple red-hot Utah State.  The Aggies are projected to score 192 points to 142 for Boise State.  Host Fresno State will also be a factor with 136 projected points with Louisiana Tech (98) and Idaho (82) rounding out the field.

 

The Louisiana Tech women once again are favored with 152 points based on the top marks in the conference this season.  After that, it could be anyone.  Only 13 points separate the #2 seed from #6.  Boise State is projected to get 118 points, with Nevada and Idaho at 115, Utah State 110 and surging Hawai'i 105.  Fresno State is projected to score 83 points with New Mexico State (22) trailing the field.

 

This week's championships are doubly important for Boise State.  BroncoCountry has chronicled the race for the WAC Commissioner's Cup, given annually to the school with the best overall sports program.  Boise State won the Cup last year, but Nevada is in line to receive the trophy this year barring some last-month heroics by the Broncos.  For Boise State to win the Cup, the men's track team will have to win the title and the women's team will have to finish three places ahead of Nevada, or hope for a Wolf Pack collapse in the softball and baseball tournaments .    

 

Boise State senior Forest Braden is favored in the 10,000, Ty Axtman is favored in the 1,500, Erik Whittsitt is the runaway top seed in the shot put , sophomore Simon Wardhaugh will draw the top seed in the hammer while freshman Zacharias Arnos is the clear favorite in the triple jump.  Any other javelin result other than a 1-2-3 Bronco sweep would be disappointing, as Scott Viafore, Pontus Thomee and Nate Putnam are the class of the league in that event. 

 

Utah State and Louisiana Tech dominate the sprints.  Utah State hopes to steamroll the field in the 1,500 with seeds 2-7 in that event.  The Aggies are an up-and-coming conference power that nearly knocked off the Broncos in the conference indoor championships.  Boise State needs to take care of business to win the WAC, and get some upsets as well.  The best shot for Coach Maynard's team is to wrest some of those 1,500-meter points from Utah State.  The Broncos will also have to score well in the 5,000 and 10,000.  Sterling Small will also play a key role going against several USU hurdlers in both the 110 and 400-meters.    

 

On the women's side, Tech will use tremendous strength in the track events to try to devastate the field.  The Lady Bulldogs own the top three times in the 100 meters and the top four in the 200.  Those two events alone could give Tech 53 points.  The Boise State women, like their male counterparts, are strongest in the field events, although they could make some noise in the distance events.  

 

The Broncos' best hopes for gold rest on hammer thrower Annika Hjelm, Eleni Kafourou in the long jump and  triple jump and Becky Guyette in the 5,000 and 10,000.  If freshman Theodora Xylaki can somehow get a high jump title, it would greatly help Boise State's team chances.  Kayleen McDowell is running well in the 800 and a win there would also give the lady Broncos a shot.  Realistically, though, the Broncos must find a way to keep Tech from dominating the sprints.  Boise State's best hopes their rest on Megan Olivetti—unfortunately, Olivetti has no teammates ranked in the WAC top ten in either the 100 or the 200. 


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