Track & field jumps up the rankings early

Photo by Adriana Bush, Sports Editor

Photo by Adriana Bush, Sports Editor

by Livvi Sefton

Last year, the San Diego State track and field team enjoyed one of its greatest seasons in program history. This year, the Aztecs plan to be even better. 

The reigning indoor and outdoor Mountain West Conference champions look to claim the titles again and send more athletes to the NCAA meet.

[quote]“This year, we want to be more team-oriented at practice and competitions,” redshirt junior Brittany Gonter said. “We want to repeat our past victories, exceed them and continue to strive for excellence.”[/quote]

The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Association preseason poll placed SDSU at No. 33 in the nation. But the Aztecs have already made a move in the rankings after the first week of the indoor season. After an impressive start to the season at the Cherry & Silver Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M., the Aztecs climbed to No. 29.

Gonter said it’s good to jump up on the rankings early in the season, but track and field is a sport about hitting peak performance at the right time.

[quote]“The rankings keep things in perspective,” Gonter said. “But I believe it’s not where you begin, but rather where you end the season at the big meets.”[/quote]

After a stellar junior year, senior Shanieka Thomas is one of 10 athletes in the nation to be placed on the Bowerman Trophy Watch List. Thomas is the only jumper in contention for the Heisman of track and field, as well as the only MWC athlete, men and women, on the list.

Thomas took the national title in the triple jump at the NCAA outdoor meet last season and was runner-up in the event at the NCAA indoor meet. She was also named the MWC Female Athlete of the Year for all sports, the indoor and outdoor track and field Student Athlete of the year and most outstanding performer at the 2013 MW Indoor Championships. She was also the USTFCCCA Indoor West Region Field Athlete of the Year.

Senior Allison Reaser will look to take her third consecutive title in the heptathlon in both the indoor and outdoor championships in her senior season. She also competed in the NCAA meet last season with Thomas, sophomore Nicole Oudenaarden and alumna Alex Evans. The Aztecs finished tied with Auburn University in 23rd.

In the first two meets of the young indoor season, the Aztecs have set two school records. The first came from redshirt junior Jasmine Burrell at the Cherry & Silver Invitational. Burrell broke her own record in the weight throw by more than two feet.

The second record was set last weekend at the Howie Ryan Invitational in Houston in the distance medley relay. Junior Dynasty Gammage (1,200 meters), senior Maderia Toatley (400 meters), sophomore Chelsea Kruthers (800 meters) and sophomore Rachel Roesgen (1,600 meters) finished in 12 minutes, 5.71 seconds, breaking the previous record of 12:13.23.

The Aztecs are on the road again next weekend for the Don Kirby Elite in Albuquerque. They then head to the MWC Indoor Championships Feb. 27- March 1 at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado, where they look to secure the program’s second indoor title in history. The MW Outdoor Championships are held in Laramie, Wyo. May 14-17.

Photo by Adriana Bush, Sports Editor