Freshmen Steal the Show as UCCS Competes at CU-Potts Invitational
The younger members of the UCCS track team were the ones to steal the show at the CU-hosted Pott's Invitational.
Saturday evening, freshman Steve Gomez became only the second Mountain Lion in UCCS history to set a National provisional qualifying mark in the high jump. En route to his first-place victory, Gomez's jump of 2.06 meters just surpassed the provisional qualifying standard of 2.05 meters.
"I was pretty surprised," Gomez said of his jump. "In high school, I had never broken six feet. Working on technique, practicing every day and weight-lifting will hopefully allow me to improve even more. Anything to make my jump better."
Gomez's jump will now be placed upon the list of potential NCAA qualifiers and as the season progresses, Gomez is likely to improve his mark and therefore improve his chances of landing a berth at the Indoor National Championships in March.
"Steve really competed today," said jumps coach Brandon Masters. "He was more aggressive on his approach to the bar this time. That's the thing we need to work on the most is trying to get him to not cut his speed as much on his approach. But hitting a provisional mark this early in the season is a pretty big deal."
Freshman Brian Hopkins polished off the second day's final three events for the heptathalon in much the same style as he finished Friday night's first three. Hopkins entered into his final events in second place and ultimately finished in the same position. His final events were the 60 meter hurdles, pole-vault, and 1,000 meter run. Hopkins had a bit more challenge in store for him this time around, considering he had never actually competed in two of those three.
"I feel like my strongest events are the hurdles and high jump," Hopkins said. "We don't have a pole-vault pit, so I've only worked on technique for that. And I've only ever done field events, so the 1K on the track was different."
Nonetheless, Hopkins remained undaunted and vaulted to a height of 3.35 meters, good for second. Combined with his earlier second place finish in the 60 meter hurdles along with his third place finish in the 1,000, Hopkins finished with 4449 points. His points were just off of the provisional mark of 4500 points. Carl Lum took seventh place with 3136 points.
"With these guys it's all about learning how to compete well and conserve energy," said Masters. "This was great for the first multi of the year because now we have a standard and we understand what we need to do to hit certain performances."
The team's distance runners stepped on to the track for the first time of the season. The majority of them competed in the 3,000 meters, with some also in the mile.
The women's 3k was stacked with Mountain Lions as Alicia Del Pardo led the way for the women taking fifth in 11:07. Just off her heels was Kaitlyn Frier in 6th with 11:08 followed by Christy Severy and Tavia Hammond in 9th and 10th places while Leslie Bennett took 11th.
"Our goal was to go out there, shake off some rust, get into a rhythm, and just crank out 45's and 46's [per lap] which they did, exactly," said distance coach Mark Misch.
Alex Tiernan was the top finisher on the men's side with his second place finish in 9:12. Behind Tiernan was Joel Keinitz in fifth and Brad Katchigan in eighth.
"We were just looking for effort-oriented stuff," Misch explained. "We have most of these folks down to compete in the 5k next weekend, so this was a prelude to that."
In the men's mile, Josh Jones and Allen Browne took ninth and tenth respectively.
The meet also featured a bit of an unusual event, the 600 yard run, where most of the team's sprinters competed.
Alex Vazquez placed third overall with his time of 75.55 while David Mueller placed eighth. Also competing were Chris Reynolds (12th) and Jason Shaver (17th).
Kelsey Barry was the top women's finisher as she took fifth in 1:31. Kylie Honigford, Tracey Falsetto, Melissa McKinely, and Dawn Eckertt followed in ninth, 13th, and 15th places.
Ailena McDonald was the team's lone competitor in both the 60 meter dash and the long jump. She placed seventh in both events, sprinting an 8.41 in the 60 and jumping 4.46 meters.
Rick Rimbert took third overall in the triple jump with a distance of 12.77 meters.
McDonald then hit the line again with Jenny Hunt in the 200 where Hunt took seventh in 28.25 and McDonald placed ninth in 29.74.
Preston Williams' throw of 11.57 meters was enough for him to take a new school record as well as an 16th place finish along with Trevor Nau, who took 18th in the weight throw while Jenn Callan took eighth in the women's division.
The three throwers also competed in the shot-put, where Nau and Williams placed 14th and 18th respectively, and Callan took eighth.
"We're five weeks out from Conference and we're in a really good place right now," said Misch. "We're working hard and improving. We're way ahead of where we were this time a year ago."
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