May 15, 2013
RENO, Nev. -
The Nevada Wolf Pack turned hot on the final day of the Mountain West Championships, capturing three events while scoring 78 points at the Mountain West Championships in Las Vegas. Seeded seventh going into the championships, the Wolf Pack had a rousing final day to finish fifth out of nine teams in their first year in the conference.
Senior jumps specialist La Tijera Avery led the Wolf Pack, scoring 13 points in two explosive performances. On Friday, Avery began her competitive efforts with some amazing leaps in the Long Jump. Never once able to get herself on the take off board, Avery still tied her lifetime best of 19'5.5"/5.93m to take sixth and grab 3 points. Time and again, the big smiling Avery was clearly jumping in the 20'/6.10m range from her take off point.
Staying loose between attempts by rhythmically playing her drum sticks during Saturday's High Jump, Avery was again showing her chops, jumping cleanly until a first attempt miss at 5' 10.75"/1.80m. Undaunted, Avery soared over the bar on her second attempt, clinching the title and 10 big points.
Kerri Simmons was Nevada's other individual event champion easily winning the Shot Put with a stunning performance. Seeded second going into the championships with her late March school record toss of 51' 1.75"/15.59m, the junior from Mississippi opened the competition with a solid put. In the second round, Simmons exploded with a toss just inside the right sector line that froze the rest of the field on the 95F/35C afternoon. The tape read 53' 2.75"/16.22m for a HUGE school record and a mark that won by nearly 3 feet/90cm.
Like Simmons, Nevada's 4 X 100 Relay team was seeded second to home track rival UNLV. Like Simmons, they were not to be denied a title. Storming the first turn, senior Sam Calhoun was stride for stride with UNLV's lead off leg. With a clean exchange, Calhoun handed to Angelica Earls who initially held a slight edge over UNLV's Emily Block. The two powerful sprinters flew the backstretch as as they both pulled far in front of all other competitors. At the second exchange, UNLV had pulled even, but a slight bobble of the baton cost them as Nevada's junior Tanisha Hawkins did not hesitate, gaining an important 2 meter lead over her UNLV counterpart she held until handing off to sophomore Kasha Knox. Knox charged up the home stretch not giving up an inch. Crossing the line in 44.37, the foursome crushed the school record of 44.92 they had set at the Drake Relays just two weeks earlier.
Jumping off a bad foot that had plagued her throughout the outdoor season, Debbie Amoah put in a gutty two-day performance that garnered 11 points for the Pack. Friday, the senior from Germany set the school record with an audacious performance that actually saw her switch take off feet between prelims and finals in an attempt to continue jumping. On her second jump in prelims, Amoah spanned 19' 9.75"/6.04m to set the school record. The jump would eventually place her third. In the final rounds, Amoah gamely made one attempt off her opposite foot jumping 18' 10.5"/5.75m.
Saturday, Amoah took fourth in the Triple Jump with 41' 10.75"/12.77m, in spite of only jumping in the preliminary rounds. She passed her final three attempts to save her foot for the first round of the NCAA National Championships to be held the Memorial Day weekend in Austin, TX.
Displaying patience, Demerey Kirsch played the hunter in both Friday's 3000 meter Steeplechase and Saturday's 5000. Unlike her previous two steeplechase races this spring, Kirsch did not take the lead early in the race. With 800 meters to go, two from the lead pack of five accelerated away on a breakaway that Kirsch missed. The sophomore from Reno held her composure eventually pulling away from the chase pack to finish third in 10:40.55. Saturday saw Kirsch hold on to the lead pack as long as she could to grab a whopping 55 second PR at 5000 in 17:02.16 to finish fifth.
Like many of her teammates, junior Sam Diaz ignored the pre-championship seedings to finish higher than her ranking. Not feeling good during Friday's prelims, Diaz qualified for the 1500 but missed the 800 final by one spot. Saturday was a different story.
After two slow opening laps of 75.6 and 73.9, Diaz made a startling, instinctive move with 650 meters remaining that caught the whole field seemingly asleep. Making a long hard drive, Diaz ran the third 400 in 69.0, blowing open the race. Her final 400 of 66.7 kept the heat on. In the final 200, the three excellent runners from New Mexico were able to slip by Diaz, but others seeded in front her were left in her wake as she took fourth in the highly competitive 1500.
The sprint crew was not done after the 4 X 100. Angelica Earls and Sam Calhoun finished fifth and sixth in the 100 recording 11.60 and 11.64, respectively. This was a PR (personal record) for Earls while Calhoun finished just off the 11.58 PR she had set in Prelims. Sam Calhoun and Tanisha Hawkins took sixth and seventh in the 200 in 23.95 and 24.22. Shanee Martin, Sam Calhoun, Angelica Earls, and Tanisha Hawkins combined for a season's best 3:45.56 to take seventh in the 4 X 400 Relay.
Finishing with a fierce 800, freshman Nicole Wadden PRed in the Heptathlon with her 4804 to take sixth place. Debuting at 10,000, junior Julie Pedersen ran a focused, intense effort to take seventh in 38:14.98.
The cross country and track and field program wrapped up its first year in the Mountain West Conference finishing fifth in cross country, third during the indoor season, and fifth outdoors.
Several members of the Wolf Pack await the announcement of NCAA national qualifiers on Thursday. The Wolf Pack contingent will compete May 23-25th at the University of Texas.
Think Great. Act Great. Be Great!
Head Cross Country/Assistant Track and Field Coach