Well, I’m back at the hotel and figured that I’d give another more in-depth recap of what I thought about this weekend.
First of all, I want to throw out a big Thank You to the Vandal Boosters in Southern Idaho for throwing the dinner for the team. They all appreciated it very much and it was great.
I figured I’d sort of make some ‘awards’ for the meet, since we did have some really good performances…so here are my picks for some “Athletes of the Meet”
Men’s Track Athlete of the Meet: Josh Dalton (Deary, Idaho)
Granted, Paul Dittmer, Markus Geiger, Sam Michener and the men’s 4x100m team were all great on the track, but I just have to say that winner who I probably least expected was Dalton. I think everyone knew that he was capable of a great run, but he went in as such a heavy underdog to the Utah State runner…who was in front of his home crowd on his own track…and the manner in which he came from behind to win that race…it was just awesome. On top of that, he also came back and filled in on a leg of the 4x400m relay just a short while later and ran really well.
Men’s Field Athlete of the Meet: Lucas Pope (Hayden, Idaho)
This guy is very quietly one of the WAC’s top performers of the last two seasons. All he’s done is win every conference pole vault title since he arrived on campus. It’s tough being a vaulter, because you generally don’t do any other events, so I don’t think he’ll ever receive the kind of hoopla or award recognition that you would expect a four-time WAC Champion to receive. In what I would say is the most unpredictable of all track and field events, Pope has been extremely consistent, and that’s no small feat. Also major credit to Eugenio Mannucci (he won the men’s shot put on his last throw of the day), Beau Whitney (took third in both the discus and shot put after fouling in the hammer), and Elvie Williams (second in the long jump, second in the triple jump, fifth in the high jump, anchor of the champion 4×100 team).
Women’s Track Athlete of the Meet: Heather Bergland (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)
Heather came into this competition ranked sixth and she did what she has always done, throughout her career…she performed. She ran a fantastic qualifying race, then another great finals race to finish third and earn first-team all-WAC in what was the final race of her Idaho career. She came up just a couple hundredths of a second off the NCAA Regional standard, but that shouldn’t detract from what she did this week. I have to give an EXTREMELY honorable mention here to Lauren Schaffer (just .48 seconds away from regional in the 800m, a personal best by a full second, and a great second-place finish).
Women’s Field Athlete of the Meet: Lindsay Beard (Eugene, Ore.)
Like I said with Lucas Pope…the pole vault is a very unpredictable event…and the women’s portion this week was the perfect example. EVERYONE had trouble early on. Everyone except Lindsay, that is. She cleared all her early heights on first attempts, and when it came time to break ties, she shot to the top pretty quickly. For a true freshman to come into a big meet like this and appear to not even have any jitters or nervousness, that’s pretty impressive. You always want your athletes to have big performances at big times…and I know she really want to get over that 12-7.5 Regional height…but if she can continue to perform well at important meets, she’ll easily get that height and probably much more. More very honorable mentions for the women in this area…Darcy Collins didn’t have her best heptathlon score-wise, but she still came up big when she needed it and took second. Ellen Rouse did really well in the heptathlon, then came right back and threw really well in both the javelin and the shot put. Breeana Chadez came out in the high jump, cleared a season-high and scored two points she wasn’t supposed to score, which is always what you want to see at a conference meet.
Obviously, these aren’t the only great performances of the weekend…everyone, whether it was just one or two points or six or eight, contributed to what the team did, so they all deserve credit. Also, for those of you keeping track at home, take notice that almost all these athletes are young and that most of them are going to be back next year…so all the Vandal fans are going to have some fun over the next few years keeping track of these kids.