CSU track & field comes up just short at Mountain West Championships

Mamadou Balde

The Colorado State track & field team came up short in their efforts to repeat as Mountain West Champions, placing second on both the women’s and men’s side in the MW Championship this weekend.

The Rams earned 85 points on the women’s side but were topped by UNLV’s women who scored 99 points. On the men’s side, the Rams earned 141 points but the Air Force men earned a staggering 206.5 points to take the title.

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Senior Mostafa Hassan competes in the weight throw at the CU Open in Boulder on Feb. 3, 2018. Hassan won the event with a throw of 18.87m (61′ 11″). (Jack Starkebaum | Collegian)

CSU started day one hot in the distance medley relay with the women earning a time that ranks second in program history. The women placed fourth in the event with a time of 11:35.89 and earned five points towards the team’s overall standings. The team was comprised of Ali Kallner, Emma Kratzberg, Roxy Trotter and Dominique Ward. Trent Powell, Caleb Hardy, Blake Yount and Cole Rockhold combined to earn a time of 9:49.11 to place third in the men’s distance relay medley.

In the heptathlon, Nick Kravec placed second and earned 3,062 points in just the first four events. Kravec also earned personal bests in the 60 meters (7.10/847 points) and the shot put (42-2/12.85m/658 points).

“Nick’s (Kravec) on fire. He’s just competing right now…that’s his number one focus,” assistant coach Ryan Baily said. “He had a couple PRs (personal records) today and he’ll be ready to roll tomorrow.”

Day two of the Championships were highlighted by the three individual titles won by Kelcey Bedard, Alex Blaho and Grant Fischer. Blaho and Bedard took the title in the men’s and women’s weight throw, respectively. Blaho registered a personal best with a mark of 19.49 meters. Mostafa Hassan finished just behind Blaho with a personal best of 19.22 meters to place second in the event. Bedard also registered a personal best with a mark of 20.21 meters to earn the title.

“We knew the men’s weight throw was going to be a big event for us,” head coach Brian Bedard said. “I thought we hit some optimistic projections for how we’d do there. We weren’t sure we’d sweep there, but it went extremely well with most of the guys hitting either season bests or lifetime bests in competition. That was a big event for us to stay in contention and challenge for a title.”

Grant Fischer earned the individual title for the 5,000 meters with a time of 14:39.43 in an intense battle with Utah State’s Dillon Maggard. On the women’s side, Darby Gilfillan earned third place with a time of 16:31.77. Gilfillan’s time is fourth best in meet-history.

Day three was highlighted by Mostafa Hassan, who took the individual title in the shot put. Hassan registered a mark 20.62 meters, winning the event by slightly under three meters.

“When we came off Christmas break, Mostafa had gotten a little off track on some of his mechanics,” Bedard said. “So we’ve been hard at work on that, and I think this was a big step in the right direction. His consistency was good and he was coachable on every throw. I just thought his mentality throughout the competition was great. If we stay on track, it should set him up pretty well for the national meet.”

In the mile, Cole Rockhold placed second behind the reigning NCAA champion Josh Kerr. Rockhold’s time (3:56.85) is second in meet history. Wayde Hall placed fifth in the event with a time of 4:09.87. Hall’s time ranks 20th in program history.

“(Cole Rockhold) ran very smart. We knew New Mexico was going to set a fast pace, so the plan was for Cole to stay with Kerr for as long as he could,” distance coach Art Siemers said in a statement.

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Overall, the Rams had an average meet, one that coach Bedard says wasn’t their best.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed and I think the team is disappointed,” Bedard said. “The team has gotten used to winning championships and so has the staff. Hats off to UNLV they put together an ‘A’ meet, they performed at 90 percent or better of their expectations and I thought we were probably at 80 or 85 percent of where we needed to be.”

Despite where the Rams placed they will still have athletes that will compete at the NCAA Championships. Cole Rockhold, Grant Fischer and Mostafa Hassan will all compete in two weeks at the meet. Their focus for the next few days will be recovery.

“We want our athletes 100 percent in physically and emotionally,” Bedard said.  “After this weekend, they’re pretty blasted, so the first part is going to be to recover, and then training and sharpening up for the NCAA Championships.”

The NCAA Championships will be held from College Station, Texas on March 9-10.

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