Graham Wins Pole Vault, Freshman of the Year at RMAC Track Championships
PUEBLO - Lauren Graham of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs not only won the women's pole vault competition at the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships Tuesday, she also set a new RMAC meet record in the process.
Graham cleared 3.83 meters, easily breaking the conference record of 3.60 meters. The freshman from Lancaster, Calif., came into the meet ranked fifth nationally and looks to be a strong bet to qualify for the NCAA Division II National Track & Field Championships, which will be held May 27-29 at Charlotte, N.C.
"It was unreal; she was flying down the runway," said UCCS jumps coach Brandon Masters. "Everything came together."
Graham's victory gave the Mountain Lions two RMAC individual champions. Anthony Cardinale won the long jump on Monday.
"I was just glad I could jump," said Graham, who was also named RMAC Women's Track & Field Freshman of the Year Tuesday. "I've had an injury so I wasn't sure I'd be able to jump today."
The trip to nationals will cap an impressive first collegiate campaign for Graham, who also took second at the RMAC indoor championships.
Graham's performance contributed 10 of the Mountain Lions' 32 team points for the meet, which was good for ninth place. The UCCS men finished seventh with 39.5 points.
Eight more of those points for the UCCS women came from Ashley Benfield, who shaved more than two seconds off of her personal best time in the women's 400-meter hurdles, clocking in as 1:03.42 which was good for second place. Her previous best was 1:05.86.
"I'm glad I was able to pull through this season. I've been one of the most injured kids on the team," said Benfield. "It's good for my mental health for next year so I can come back and do even more."
"With the type of training we did, Ashley and the (800-meter) girls, who were both all conference, the last 100 (meters) are going to be strong," added UCCS assistant coach David Harmer. "The 400 is the toughest event in track & field and she just smashed it."
Those "800 girls," Kelsey Barry and Tracy Falsetto, each earned all-RMAC honors with their performances. Barry, who recently won UCCS' prestigious McLaughlin Award for excellence in academics, athletics and community service, took third with a time of 2:15.63. Falsetto, meanwhile, was sixth at 2:18.30. Teammates Kassie Mazzocco (12th) and Melissa Buchanan (16th) also ran. Falsetto's performance was, like Benfield's, a two-plus second improvement over her previous career best.
"I told (Falsetto) at Christmas that she was going to be all-conference," said Harmer. "Two girls making all-conference in the 800 hasn't happened before (at UCCS)."
In the men's 800, Chris Reynolds took eighth and Alex Vazquez 10th with times of 1:55.18 and 1:56.36. Also competing for UCCS were Chris Ullom (15th) and Andrew Servold (19th). Mark Santon took 11th in the men's 400-meter hurdles.
The men's 4 X 400 relay became a four-team battle as UCCS, Colorado School of Mines, Nebraska-Kearney and Chadron State built a gap between themselves and the rest of the pack by the third leg. Mines ended up winning the race with a final-lap surge by Mark Husted, with Chadron State second, Nebraska-Kearney third and UCCS fourth. Less than a second separated the second from fourth place. The UCCS team (Vazquez, Jonathan Christian, Jason Shaver and Alan Ford) finished with a time of 3:23.86.
In other relays, Vazquez, Anthony Cardinale, Shaver and Dami Oladiran took fourth place in the 4x100, covering the distance in 42.96 seconds, just .06 behind third-place Adams State. The UCCS womenâ€TMs 4x100 squad of Jessica Luna, Melissa Buchanan, Ailena McDonald and Sara Kettelkamp took eighth in their race and the women's 4 X 400 quartet of Benfield, Falsetto, Jessica Luna and Barry) took sixth.
A trio of freshmen represented the Mountain Lions in the 400-meter dash. Christian took sixth on the menâ€TMs side with a time of 50.78 seconds while Ford was 14th in 52.37. Luna ran in the women's race, taking 12th with a time of 1:02.61.
Brien Hopkins came off his fourth-place showing in the decathlon, which concluded Monday, to take fifth in the pole vault on Tuesday, clearing 4.05 meters.
Aside from running both relays, Shaver also took eighth in a 25-runner field in the 200. The junior who won the UCCS men's McLaughlin Award ran 23.63 in the finals after clocking an impressive 22.75 in the preliminaries.
Kaitlin Frier took 11th in the women's 5,000-meter run with a time of 19:17.63 as the shadows began to lengthen and the temperatures dropped.Fellow Mountain Lion Christy Severy took 13th. Four Mountain Lions competed in the men's 5,000-meter run, led by Sam Feldotto (16th place, 15:56.19). Luke Dalkin (24th), Allen Browne (25th) and Ted Schultz (27th) were the others.
Preston Williams competed in the javelin and hammer throws, taking 17th in the javelin but not recording a distance in the hammer because of a foul. Ailena McDonald was 14th in the women's triple jump, while Jennifer Callan was 19th in the hammer throw.
|Additional News Stories|
|June 28, 2010||Graham nabs eight place at junior nationals||University of Colorado at Colorado Springs pole vaulter Lauren Graham placed eighth in her event at the United States Junior National Track & Field Championships Friday at Des Moines, Iowa.|
|May 22, 2010||UCCS athletes compete, one brings home hardware from track nationals||The weather came into play in Charlotte, N.C., during the NCAA Division-II Outdoor Track and Field National Championship. Stop me if you have not heard that one from the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs 2010 track season. I have never seen as many extreme weather conditions during a track season as I have during the 2010 track season. So of course, the weather could not let up during the National Championship. The women's pole vault and men's high jump were suppose to be contested and completed on Friday, May 28th but the event conclusions were pushed to Saturday due to lighting delays. It is official USA Track and Field and NCAA policy that an outdoor event can not be contested with 30 minutes of a lightening strike within 30 miles of the competition site.|
|May 19, 2010||Barry, two others named to RMAC All-Academic teams||Kelsey Barry of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs was named Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Women's Outdoor Track & Field First Team All-Academic, the conference announced Wednesday. Teammate's Alicia Del Pardo and Kaitlin Frier were named to the all-academic honor roll.|
|May 12, 2010||Nine Mountain Lions named All-RMAC||The 2010 Outdoor Track & Field All-RMAC teams were announced Tuesday. Three Mountain Lions found their name in the list of first-team All-RMAC selections along with three second teamers and three more on the third team.|