After spending five dominant seasons in the Great West Conference, the Utah Valley University men's and women's track and field teams will begin their inaugural seasons of competition as members of the Western Athletic Conference on Friday at Boise State. The Wolverines will kick off their indoor season at the Jackson Open and Multis in Nampa, Idaho.
Friday's meet will run all day at the Jackson Indoor Track in the Idaho Center. Action will begin with the men's pentathlon at 10 a.m., while the field events will get going at 2 p.m. with the women's weight throw. The running events will then pick up at 3 p.m., with the women's 300-meter dash, while the final event of the meet, the men's 4x400m relay, is slated to take place at 7:15 p.m.
During its five seasons of competition in the Great West, UVU won 12 conference championships (10 outdoor and two indoor), including both outdoor titles last season. Just last month, the Wolverines' men's cross-country team won Utah Valley's first-ever WAC Championship at the 2013 WAC Cross-Country Championships that were held at the Jefferson Park Golf Course in Seattle. The Wolverine women came in fifth place at the championship meet.
The Wolverine men and women will begin their 2014 indoor track and field seasons on Friday and will be looking to have another successful season after both teams finished in second place at the 2013 GWC Indoor Championships. Three of Utah Valley's five NCAA qualifiers from last year's outdoor season return in juniors Michael McPherson and Nicholas Taylor and senior Brooke Hodson-Davies. McPherson was named the Great West Outdoor Male Athlete of the Year after he qualified for the NCAAs in the 200m and long jump last season. Taylor also competed for UVU in the 200m dash at the NCAAs last year, while fifth-year senior Hodson-Davies competed in the 3000m steeplechase at the NCAAs as well.
"It's always nice to begin the season in December. It gives the kids that have not yet previously competed a chance to get things going and see where their fitness levels and performance levels are at," 10th-year head coach Scott Houle said. "We love going to Boise. They have a great track and always put on a solid meet. It'll also be nice to be able to get out and compete against other teams as well."
At Friday's meet, UVU will go up against competitors from the host Broncos as well as Central Washington, Northwest Nazarene, Saint Martin's, George Fox, Carroll, Concordia (Ore.), Evergreen State, Lewis-Clark and Westminster.
Houle will take his entire men's and women's rosters to the meet besides his distance runners.
The Wolverines opened their 2012-13 indoor season at Boise State last December and had a strong opening meet. Departed sprinter Allah Laryea-Akrong led the way by winning the 60m open (6.80 seconds), the 60m dash (6.78) and placing second in the 200m (21.77). Sophomore distance runner Darian Sharp and the junior sprinter Taylor also raced well as Sharp won the women's 5000m run (17:49.59), while Taylor took third in the 60m open (6.96), third in the 200m (21.82) and fifth in the 60m dash (6.95).
McPherson, who was competing unattached at the opening season meet at Boise State last year, took home the heptathlon title with 5,180 points.
Following Friday's opening season meet, the Wolverines will be off until 2014 when they'll head to Provo to take part at the BYU Invitational on Jan. 9-11.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com.