After a historically successful indoor season, the Colorado State track and field team is set to open up their outdoor season this Saturday as they host the Fum Mcgraw Invitational.
“All of the coaches alike and especially (head coach) Brian Bedard, we get really excited for outdoor season,” assistant coach Ryan Baily said. “Bedard gets all of his throws back and we get a chance to debut in some events that I feel like we are really strong in outdoors. I know we are excited about the outdoor season, both men and women.”
The Rams are coming into the outdoor season after the men’s and women’s teams took home the conference title at the Mountain West indoor conference championships at the end of February.
“Tasting what a conference championship is like provides a lot of motivation for everyone,” CSU junior Hunter Price said. “I think everyone now realizes, if they didn’t already, how good this program can be, and we will have everyone 100 percent invested this outdoor season.”
Coming off of the indoor team titles, expectations are high, but that is a standard already set by the track team. The men’s team won the outdoor conference title in 2015 before finishing third last season. On the women’s side, CSU is aiming for a third-straight outdoor conference title.
“I think winning the indoor conference meet is great for our confidence as a team, but we always compete to win,” CSU senior and multi-event athlete Josh Cogdill said. “Whether we win the indoor season or not, I expect us to compete with the same attitude.”
On the individual side, the Rams sent seven athletes to NCAA indoor nationals two weeks ago — five men, two women.
“Because of our (indoor nationals) performance, it takes the squad to another level,” Baily said. “It raises the bar for all of the other athletes and they do perform better. They practice better and they compete better, it changes them. So that is a positive thing that happened indoors.”
The Rams may have set the tone for Mountain West track and field in February, but it was no easy task.
The men’s team secured the indoor conference title by only six points over second place Air Force Academy, while the women came away with a three-and-a-half point win over the University of Nevada.
“Winning the two titles indoors mean that we have a target on our back,” Price said. “Other teams came close to taking that victory from us and will be working that much harder to see us fall. We need to make sure we stay a step ahead of them.”
The rest of the Mountain West might be gunning for CSU’s spot, but the Rams have enough firepower to make sure dethroning them will not be easy.
On the men’s side, indoor National Champion in the shot put, Mostafa Hassan, should once again figure prominently in the conference and national championship race during outdoors. Hassan won the indoor national title by over four feet, placing him in the driver’s seat in the shot put this spring.
The CSU distance team sent three runners to indoor nationals in Jerrell Mock, Grant Fischer and Cole Rockhold. Rockhold and Mock won individual conference titles in the 3,000 meter and 5,000 meter runs respectively, while senior Jefferson Abbey finished second in the 3,000 meter at the conference championships.
The four runners make up the core of a CSU distance unit primed for continued success this outdoor season.
Cogdill is the two-time defending conference champion in the decathlon and he won the Mountain West indoor title in the heptathlon this year, while junior Nick Kravec finished second. Unforgotten in that group is Price, who finished in fourth place in the heptathlon at NCAA indoor nationals.
Leading the women’s team into outdoor season is senior Aaliyah Pete, who is looking for her fourth-straight outdoor conference title in the shot put. Pete, who finished in 13th place at NCAA indoor nationals, also won the indoor conference title in the event in February.
Senior Lorenda Holston, the school-record holder in the 60 and 100 meter hurdles also made a trip to nationals two weeks ago. Holston finished third in the conference in the 100 meter hurdles at last year’s outdoor championship meet, but her stellar indoor season this year could translate into an even bigger jump come when the outdoor season comes.
Another athlete to keep on eye on is senior Emily Romo. Romo is the two-time defending champion in the conference in the indoor 400 meter dash, and she won the outdoor title in the 400 meter in 2015 before finishing second last season.
Collegian sports reporter Eric Wolf can be reached by email at email@example.com and on twitter @eric_wolf5.