The Utah Valley University track and field teams will host the 2014 Western Athletic Conference Men's and Women's Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Wednesday through Saturday at the Hal Wing Track and Field in Orem. The meet will mark the first-ever WAC Championship to be contested on the UVU campus.
All nine WAC schools will compete at the meet, and UVU will be looking for its inaugural track championship in its new league after the Wolverine men and women took third and fourth, respectively, during the indoor season. In the fall, however, the Utah Valley men's cross-country team brought home the institution's first-ever WAC Championship.
The meet gets underway Wednesday at 10 a.m., with the opening events of the men's decathlon as well as the women's heptathlon. The two multi-events then conclude Thursday, as well as the running of the men's and women's 10,000-meters. Friday features mainly preliminary races on the track along with a number of final field events, while Saturday showcases the majority of the final races and field events.
Admission is free to all spectators on Wednesday and Thursday, while ticket prices are $5 per person on Friday and Saturday, except for children 5 and under who are free. For those fans who cannot attend, live video and live stats will be available throughout the meet online.
The Wolverine men and women look to add to their successful outdoor campaigns this week. Just last weekend, Trac Norris won the men's 3000m steeplechase at the Oxy Invitational in Los Angeles, California, with the blazing time of 8:59.94. Norris' time in the race currently ranks him 37th in the West Region in the event. Fellow distance runners Chris Dorton, Brooke Hodson-Davies, Ivie Gonsalves and Aisha Graham too ran well at the Oxy Invite as Dorton took fourth in the men's steeplechase (9:06.70), while Hodson-Davies placed second in the women's 3000m steeplechase (10:52.84), Gonsalves eighth in 5000m run (16:58.83) and Graham 14th in the 800m (2:11.99).
Junior Michael McPherson paces the men's team as he is currently ranked 12th in the West in the decathlon. The school record holder in the decathlon, long jump, 400m and 4x100m relay will be busy this week as he'll compete in the decathlon, 100m, 200m, long jump and both relays. Norris, who is the UVU record holder in the 800, 1500, 1-mile and steeplechase, will also compete for the Wolverines in the 800m run and the 3000m steeplechase.
On the women's side, Hodson-Davies, who is ranked 34th in the West in the women's 3000m steeplechase and qualified for the NCAA's in the event last year, will compete in the steeplechase this weekend and the 5000m run. Senior Ali Shields will also have a busy week ahead of her for the women's squad, as she'll compete in the women's heptathlon, as well as the long jump and triple jump.
The Wolverine men and women enter the weekend having won titles at their respective outdoor conference championships in each of the past five seasons. During the five years in the Great West Conference, the UVU track and field teams went a perfect 10-for-10 at the outdoor championships.
At the 2014 WAC Indoor Championships, Idaho won the men's title while Grand Canyon took home the women's. GCU's men's team took second while UVU came in third. Kansas City finished in second place on the women's side, while Idaho finished in third and the Wolverine women took fourth.
Following this weekend's meet, UVU will await next week's NCAA selection show to see how many of its student-athletes have qualified for the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds. The full list of student-athletes, by event, who have been accepted to compete in each preliminary championships competition, plus those who have been accepted to compete in the heptathlon or decathlon at the final championships competition, will be announced Thursday, May 22. The NCAA Preliminary Rounds will then take place May 29-31, with the West Prelims set to take place in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com.
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