Rams continue to roll at Air Force Team Challenge

Mamadou Balde

In just their second week of action since December, the Rams put together record-setting performances at the Air Force Team Challenge last Thursday and Friday.

Athlete jumps backwards in high jump event
Junior high jump athlete McKenzie Wright clears the bar at the Jack Christiansen track meet on Saturday April 22, 2017. McKenzie won the high jump with a hight of 5 feet and 5.75 inches. (Matt Begeman | Collegian)

Day one of the event showcased the talent of pentathlon athletes Talia Marquez and Gabby Smith, who placed first and second, respectively. Leading the way for the Rams was Marquez who scored a total of 3,647 points. Marquez placed first in the long jump and second in the 60-meter hurdles, 800 meters and high jump.

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Smith placed first in the 60 meter hurdles, finishing with a time of 9 minutes and 13 seconds.  Smith also won the 800 meters with a time of 2:26.01. Smith finished third in the long jump, high jump and shot put, totaling 3,428 points in her second-place finish.

Senior Nick Kravec paced the men in the heptathlon, finishing in fourth place with 2,885 points. Kravec placed third in the long jump with a final distance of 6.66 meters and in shot put with an official distance of 12.58m. He placed fourth in the high jump (1.88m) and seventh in the 60 meters (7.20).

“We definitely weren’t quite crisp overall today,” assistant head coach Ryan Baily said in a statement. “But they all certainly competed well. Obviously, it’s early and they’re tired, so I’m happy with how they competed. For a multi in January, I thought they did well, and even though we weren’t exactly crisp today, we will be when it counts.”

Day two of the team challenge ran much smoother for the Rams who had three athletes post top-five all-time indoor marks for the program.

Junior Jalen Hunter highlighted the Rams’ men in the 60-meter hurdles where he placed second with a final time of 7.98. Hunter’s final time was a personal best and matched the fifth best time on CSU’s all-time indoor list. Destinee Rocker remained undefeated in the women’s 60-meter hurdles with a final time of 8.46.

“He really battled in the final,” coach Karim Abdel Wahab said of Hunter. “He really raced (Wichita State’s) Hunter Veith – he was ahead of him after hurdle one – and Jalen really battled the whole way, up to the last hurdle. It was really cool to see. The start was average, but after hurdle one through the finish line was spot-on. I feel like he’s on his way to running even faster in the coming weeks. He competed well, and is on his way to really putting something special together.”

Junior Marybeth Sant had another record-tying day with her performance in the 60 meters. She finished first with a finals time of 7.47. Sant’s final time matched her indoor personal best which was also fifth on CSU’s all-time indoor list. In the 200 meters, Jasmine Chesson finished third with a time of 25.11, a time that ranks 16th on the indoor all-time list. Ronald Sayles placed second in the 400 meters with a time of 48.57, a time just .02 seconds shy of the winning time. Sayles’ time is a new indoor best that ranks 13th all time.

McKenzie Wright placed third in the women’s high jump with a height of 1.77m. Wright’s mark in the event is tied for fifth on the all-time list. Autumn Gardner placed fourth in the event with a mark of 1.74m. In the triple jump, Wright finished third with a mark of 11.69m

The Rams dominated the weight throw event, claiming the top spot in both the men’s and women’s throw. Kelcey Bedard won the women’s event with a mark of 18.80m while Alex Blaho remained undefeated in the men’s weight throw finishing with a mark of 18.32.

The track and field team will continue competition at the Air Force Invitational on Jan. 26 and Jan. 27 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

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Collegian sports reporter Mamadou Balde can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @mamadoubalde62.