CSU track and field attends Mountain West Outdoor Championships

The CSU Track and Field team kicks off competition at the 2013 Mountain West Outdoors Championships in UNLV Wednesday with high expectations, as a slew of Rams are in position to make their way to Nationals.

The Rams have a number of competitors stretching across events from sprinting, hurdles, long distance, throwing events, and medleys. The women’s team is hoping to take home the title after finishing second last year, while the men are poised to improve on last year’s fifth place finish.

Junior hurdler Trevor Brown is set to defend his championships in both the 110 and 400 hurdle events. He currently holds the conference best time for the 110-meter, clocking a 13.65 at the Mt. SAC relays in California on April 20, besting his previous record.

Women’s hurdlers include senior Lindsey Keller, sophomore Stephanie Gerber, and freshman Kara Hyde. Keller finished 5th in the 100 meter event and Gerber finished 8th in the 400 meter even at last year’s championships.

CSU also has runners in longer events, such as the decathlon, which will be run by sophomore Justin Green, senior Josh McMillin, and sophomore Josh Cogdill. The trio currently lead the Mountain West for their decathlon times. The decathlon includes a multitude of events, combining sprinting, jumping, and throwing in a true test of the athlete.

The throwing events for CSU will be highlighted by a couple of budding stars, namely freshman Tyler Schultz and sophomore Kiah Hicks.

“I’m really excited,” said Hicks. “I feel like all my hard work and training is going to help me have some of my best throws.”

Hicks hopes to improve on already impressive finishes from last years championships in which she placed 3rd in shot put, 4th in discus, and 6th in hammer throw on her way to Nationals.

“Last year I was competing for the team and I was a freshman so I felt like I just wanted to see what happened,” Hicks said. “This time, my mindset is that I am going to win. I am much more comfortable this time around.”

On May 3, at the Cowpoke Open in Laramie, Hicks claimed a Mountain West best for women’s discus with an impressive throw of 180-10.5. The Mountain West Championships are her chance to make a statement as the best thrower in the league. Hicks, along with her teammates,  juniors Elizabeth Johnson and Jessica Sharbono and senior Jenna Sliwinsky, are hoping to make a splash in the throwing events.

“Right now, our girls are ranked first through fourth and our team is set to sweep the discus event, so it would be awesome to see that happen,” Hicks said.

Meanwhile, Schultz will be soaking in his first Outdoor Collegiate Championships.

Although he is a freshman, he has already proven himself to his Mountain West competition with a shot put throw of 59 feet, 4.75 inches at the Jack Christiansen Invitational. The mark was a personal best for Schultz and proved to be the longest shot put in the Mountain West this season.

A tournament in Las Vegas always presents distractions, but Hicks is confident her team will be focused.

“It’s going to be tough keeping our team motivated and together,” Hicks said. “We are going to have to try and balance staying in the hotel, staying out of the heat, and the aspect of getting to the track and supporting the team, but I think we will make the best of it.”

The 2013 Mountain West Championships run from Wednesday through Saturday, and are sure to be filled with excitement, drama, and most importantly, success for the Rams.

Track and Field Beat Reporter Tyrus Coder can be reached at sports@collegian.com.