Winger Takes 2nd At NCAA Indoor Championships

Congratulations to WAC Shot Put Champion RUSS WINGER who earned a silver medal this afternoon at the NCAA Indoor National Championships. Teammate and WAC 800m Champion DRISS YOUSFI ran a solid race, but did not qualify for the 800m Finals. On the Women's side, DEE OLSEN qualified for the mile finals with a personal best finish in the prelims, and prepares for the 3000m Finals.

Russ could easily become one of the greatest field athletes in the history of Idaho Track & Field...significant company considering former Vandal Joaquim Olsen just completed a THIRD place finish today in the shot put at the World Indoor Championships (21.16m), throwing for his home-country of Denmark. Since graduating from Idaho, Olsen has earned bronze at the 2004 World Indoor meet and bronze at the 2004 Summer Olympics.

But today is Winger's day, and his throw of 19.44m (63 feet, 9.5 inches) gave him a silver medal finish behind Florida State's Garrett Johnson (20.48m), and just ahead of bronze medalist Sean Shields of Arizona (19.36m). Russ' personal best throw this Indoor season, 64-4, was the fourth best throw in the nation this season. He's coming off a 2005 OUTDOOR Track season in which he took 5th at Nationals and earned All-American honors in the shot. In 2004, he took second in both the shot and discus at the Big West Championships. And, to round out Russ' career, as a high school senior in 2003 he took the Colorado State Championship in the shot and discus for Pine Creek High School.

NOTE: For those that have noticed Russ listed as a sophomore at the Indoor Nationals, but a junior on the official site, it is because he redshirted the 2005 Indoor season, but competed in the 2005 Outdoor track season (Russ took 5th place at the Outdoor National Championships in 2005 and earned All-American honors). Hence, Indoor he's a sophomore, Outdoor he's a junior.

Also representing the Men's Indoor Track Team today was distance runner junior Driss Yousfi of France, competing in the 800m run for the Vandals. Driss did not qualify for the finals, but finished 14th overall with a time of 1:55.20 (he qualified for Nationals with a personal best 1:48:58 at the Husky Last Chance meet earlier this month, a time that was just a few tenths of a second off the UI all-time mark). With another year to compete, expect Driss to do well next season as he defends his WAC Indoor 800m Championship in 2007.

The Women's team is represented by just one runner, but junior Dee Olsen is one of the WAC's best, and she's qualified for Nationals in TWO events: the mile and the 3000m run. Another in a long-line of accomplished Vandal track athletes, her list of honors is impressive (2006 WAC Indoor Mile and Medley Relay Champion, 2005 WAC Cross Country Champion, 2005 WAC Female Cross Country Athlete of the Year, and more).

In today's mile run preliminaries, Dee qualified for the finals (to be run Saturday) with a NEW personal best time of 4:40.60 in the event. She finished fifth overall in the prelims and is poised for a strong finish in the Finals. Saturday also will be the running of the 3000m event, with a start time of 7:50pm. The mile final starts at 6:25pm, so it will be a busy day for the track star from Estacada, Oregon.

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