After a three-week break from indoor track competitions, the Weber State University men’s and women’s track and field teams had a bright beginning to their outdoor season at the Aztec Open and Invitational.
The meet was split into two sections, an open meet on Friday and an invitational meet on Saturday. Friday the team performed well for the first meet of the season, but the less-than-ideal weather conditions Saturday caused the meet to end early and the cancellation of the rest of the day’s events.
The men’s team had eight athletes qualify for the Big Sky Conference track and field championship meet. Mike Hardy ran the steeplechase for the first time in his career and won the open event with a time of 9:08.75, the second-fastest time in the NCAA Division I men’s track and field for the 2012 season.
Dustin Durfee won the 400-meter open race with a personal-best time of 48.44. The 4×100-meter relay team of Jonathan McUne, Matt White, Christian Barbiero and Chris Struckman won the open relay race with a time of 41.71. Struckman also ran a personal best of 21.96 in the 200 meters, finishing sixth. White took fifth with a time of 21.95.
McUne finished fourth in the 110-meter hurdles in 15.30, and finished fifth in the invitational race with a season-best 15.27.
Justin Watts took second place in the javelin with a throw of 151’10”. Ethan Anderson took seventh in the discus with a throw of 158’6”.
“I was pleased with our efforts all around,” said Head Coach Dan Walker. “Even when the weather turned, everyone was willing to try and didn’t let it affect them. We were better in some areas than I thought, and there are areas where we can and will improve, but overall, it was a good way to start the season.”
For the women’s team, Amber Henry ran the steeplechase for the first time in her career. She won the meet with a time of 10:12.00, the fastest time in the nation this season in the NCAA Division I and the fifth-best in school history.
Henry came back on Saturday morning to win the 1,500 meters in a personal best of 4:24.84. Right behind her in second was Sarah Callister, who ran a personal best of 4:27.13. Those are the first- and second-best times in the nation in NCAA Divison I at this point in the season. Henry’s time is the sixth-best in school history and Callister’s is eighth.
Laken Hintze also ran the steeplechase for the first time, with a time of 10:51.82, almost reaching the school’s top 10 list.
“Amber and Sarah really ran well for the first meet of the season,” said Paul Pilkington, head coach of the women’s team. “No one in school history has run that fast in the steeplechase the first time they ran in the event. Taylor Thorneley had a great early season mark in the 5,000 meters and Kristin Billings won the 100-meter dash.”
Thornley ran a personal best of 16:50.53, winning the invitational 5,000-meter race. It was nearly a 10-second improvement from last season and is the eighth-best time in school history.
Billings won the women’s open 100-meter dash with a time of 12.21. Amanda Alston ran a personal best of 24.74 in the 200-meter dash, finishing fourth.
The Wildcats will be back in action March 30 at the Utah Valley University meet in Orem, Utah.
“It was a good meet,” Pilkington said. “Now we have a couple of weeks to train, work and improve.”