By Othello Richards
In just the first meet of the season at Weber State Saturday, Jan. 12, a meet which women”s track and field head coach Craig Poole deemed as a “time-trial” to find out where his athletes stood, three Cougars made the most of the opportunity in provisionally qualifying for the national championship meet in March.
Senior Nikki Hughes returned to the arena after sitting out last year”s indoor season nursing a hamstring injury. She leaped her way to a first place finish in the long jump with a mark of 20-4.
“We had a strong preseason and I felt really ready,” Hughes said, but wasn”t content with the mark.
“I qualified (for nationals) provisionally, but I want to make that automatic. I want to jump in the 21s.”
Hughes later took to the track and won the 60-meter hurdles in convincing fashion, crossing the finish line in a time of 8.19 seconds.
Competing for the first time on a collegiate level, freshman Candace Clifford and sophomore Lindsey Steele put on a display in the high jump. Like Hughes, both provisionally qualified in the event, clearing a height of 5-11.
“I want to succeed really bad, but for the first meet of the season, I”m really happy with 5-11,” Clifford said. “Next week we”re shooting for six feet.”
Concerning her own performance, Steele had the same attitude.
“It”s been a while since I jumped, but now I feel I can do it. I”m back. I”m ready. Bring it on,” Steele said.
Satisfied with the performance of his jumpers, Poole said he realized that the sprints still needed some work.
“Our event times in the sprints and so forth are not quite as good as the other teams, but for the first time out where we”ve had a competitive experience, I think they did well,” Poole said.
He still has high aspirations for future performances of his athletes.
“We”ll get better in the sprints and the other medium sprint races as time goes by,” Poole said.
Other Cougars contributed to the overall team success of the afternoon. Sarah Wright won the triple jump setting a personal record of 37-3 3/4. Closely trailing, freshman Lindsey Sommer finished third with a jump of 37-1.
Alicia Thompson won the pole vault for the Cougars, clearing a height of 11-0.
The 55-meter dash featured Misty McConnell of Weber State and BYU”s Aubrie Latimore.
McConnell ran for BYU last season and consistently posted close races with Latimore. As teammates, the two traded victories repeatedly.
This time McConnell edged Latimore in the event, running a first-place time of 7.10 seconds. Latimore finished third with a time of 7.27 seconds.
Top finishers for the Cougars in the 200-meter dash were senior Danna Rast, 26.55 seconds, freshman Jennifer Rockwell, 26.59 seconds, and freshman Amy Robinson, 26.75 seconds.
Winning the 400-meter dash was BYU”s freshman Jamie Cottle in a time of 59.65 seconds. Teammate Jenny Holman followed with a time of 1:00.79, landing her third place.
Second-year runner, Anika Smith, placed third in the 800-meter with a time of 2:17.57, and Kassie Anderson, a member of last season”s national champion cross country team finished third in the one-mile.