The Utah Valley University men's and women's track and field teams finished in third and fourth places, respectively, at their first-ever WAC Indoor Championships. The three-day championship meet was contested the University of Idaho's Kibbie Dome in Moscow, Idaho.
"We're proud of the kids and the way that they competed," head coach Scott Houle said. "Third and fourth is pretty respectable but obviously not where we want to be. So this gives us a little target that we can shoot at for the outdoor season.
"The WAC is a lot tougher and the teams have more depth and are more focused than we've faced in the past. So it's fun to be a part of and I think our teams did a good job considering some of the injuries that we've had to deal with over the last week."
Junior sprinter Nicholas Taylor led the way for the Wolverine men as he won the 60-meter dash and took second in the 200. In what came down to a photo finish, Taylor managed to edge out Kansas City's Kenny Roach by 0.01 of a second to win the WAC title in the 60 with a time of 6.84 seconds. Taylor then pushed through an injury later in the afternoon to take second in the 200m dash with a time of 21.57.
Seniors Michael Ashton and Marcus Pratt also had a big day for the men's squad in the pole vault as the duo took third and fourth place, respectively, with identical marks of 4.70m. Utah Valley's distance contingent of sophomores Josh Monsen and Trac Norris, senior Chris Dorton and junior Trevor Sharp fared well in the men's 1-mile as the four took fourth through seventh in the race. Monsen led the way by taking fourth (4:19.93), while Dorton took fifth (4:20.49), Norris sixth (4:20.65) and Sharp seventh (4:21.80).
Junior distance runner Ivie Gonsalves had an impressive showing in the women's 3000m run by taking second in the event. Gonsalves finished in second place with a time of 10:02.35, while senior Brooke Hodson-Davies finished two spots back in fourth (10:09.64). Hodson-Davies also had a solid performance in the women's 1-mile run by placing fourth with a time of 5:00.58. Fellow Wolverine sophomore Harley Murray took fifth in the mile (5:05.99).
Sophomore Samantha Sweet came in third in the 400m dash with a personal best time of 56.58, while freshmen Mindy Stapel, Emily Krout and senior Autumn Robertson all had a big day in the women's high jump. The trio of jumpers took fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively, in the high jump by all clearing 1.59m.
In other notable performances for the men's team during Friday's final day of the conference championship meet, Monsen and Norris placed fourth and seventh, respectively, in the men's 800m run with times of 1:53.84 and 1:55.17, while freshman Kyler Sprague took fifth in the 60m hurdles with a personal record of 8.35 seconds. Junior Michael McPherson also came through for UVU in the sprints, as he took seventh in the 200m (21.86) and eighth in the 60 (7.03), while sophomore Jason Lynch picked up a team point for the Wolverines by taking eighth in the 3000 (8:50.52).
Other noteworthy finishes for the women included senior Ali Shields' fifth-place showing in the 60m hurdles (8.96).
In the final events of the meet, the men's and women's 4x400m relays, the Utah Valley men took fourth (3:17.65), while the women placed sixth (3:52.02).
In the men's team score race, the host Vandals managed to take the title by a mere point over Grand Canyon as Idaho finished with 173 points to GCU's 172. UVU came in third with 113 points. The women's title went to the Antelopes, however, with 166.50 points. UMKC finished in second place with 144.50, while Idaho took third (127) and UVU finished in fourth (80).
With the indoor season now coming to a close, McPherson, who entered the weekend ranked 11th nationally in the heptathlon, will wait to see if his heptathlon score of 5,535 points at the USATF Indoor Championships will hold up to keep him in the NCAA Indoor Championship picture. McPherson is hoping to become Utah Valley's first-ever student-athlete to compete at the NCAA Indoor Championships that will be held March 14-15 in Albuquerque, N.M.
The UVU men and women begin their 2014 outdoor seasons at the UNLV Track Classic in Las Vegas next weekend. Utah Valley will then close its outdoor campaigns by hosting the WAC Outdoor Championships on May 14-17.
Final men's team scores
1) Idaho - 173
2) Grand Canyon - 172
3) Utah Valley - 113
4) Kansas City - 80
5) Texas-Pan American - 57.50
6) Seattle U - 44.50
7) Chicago State - 18
Final women's team scores
1) Grand Canyon - 166.50
2) Kansas City - 144.50
3) Idaho - 127
4) Utah Valley - 80
5) New Mexico State - 69
6) Texas-Pan American - 31
7) Seattle U - 22
8) Chicago State - 13
9) Bakersfield - 10
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com.