Pac-12 track championships finally here

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Posted: Thursday, May 15, 2014 7:07 pm

Oregon State hopes to have multiple athletes score in last meet of season for most

Oregon State’s chances this weekend in the Pac-12 Championships should be viewed with some perspective.

OSU might not score as high as it did last season. But last season, it only had one athlete score — sophomore Sara Almen, who is redshirting this season.

Almen scored six points for the Beavers in last season’s championships when she finished third in the high jump.

In this season’s competition, OSU has no clear-cut scorers, but many are on the cusp. There is a group of four athletes who are ranked in the top 7-10, and a few others who rank in the top 15, but an abundance of other competitors share similar marks.

The top eight performers in each event score points, which is what every OSU athlete will aim for this weekend.

“We’re really, really close,” said head coach Kelly Sullivan. “Don’t go there and be intimidated, don’t go and feel like you don’t belong — go with the idea that it’s an opportunity. These are the types of meets that can all of a sudden define a career, because if you have a big day, then you can see that talent become unleashed.”

The marks OSU athletes have achieved in recent meets have been a good sign, with many consistently finishing with personal-records. One of the most important things in track and field is peaking at the right moment and staying consistent throughout the season. 

Here are some of OSU’s athletes with potential of scoring this weekend:

Junior Kinsey Gomez, 5,000-meter: Gomez seems unlikely to score over the weekend in her event, sitting in 22nd for the event, but in distance, races time can often be less important than position and strategy. She may also be focusing on bigger things. She will be competing in the NCAA West Preliminary Championships in a few weeks, when she will compete in the 10,000-meter. In last year’s Pac-12 Championships, she finished 26th in the 1,500-meter. 

Freshman Melissa Ausman, discus/shot put: Ausman will be competing in two events over the weekend, but her performance in the discus will be the one to watch. Her throw of 168-0 two weeks ago ranks her ninth in the Pac-12, and three of the marks above her occurred more than one month ago. One concerning thing is that last weekend she threw 145-5, her second worst of the season. While it could have been a poor day for throwing, it may be a sign of inconsistency. 

“You don’t become great until you become consistent,” Sullivan said. “And she knows that. You’d rather have a kid throwing 168 feet in her back pocket than have a kid who hasn’t done it yet.”    

Sophomore Michele Turney, triple jump, long jump: Turney, like Ausman is competing in two events, but really focuses on one — triple jump. She’s currently ranked eighth in the Pac-12, having hit her current PR in her most recent outing. Her consistency is one thing that should put her in scoring position this weekend. She has improved steadily throughout the season, and three of the Pac-12 marks in front of her were accomplished in February and early March. This weekend is more than just scoring for Turney, though; she is right on the edge of qualifying for the NCAA West Preliminary Championships. She needs to improve her mark by roughly three inches to make it into contention, more if she wants to solidify a spot. 

Redshirt Freshman Morgan Anderson, 1,500-meter: While she is ranked 34th in the Pac-12, the difference between her and eighth place is about six seconds. This leap forward may seem daunting, but Anderson trimmed seven seconds off her time in April, and has cut two seconds off so far in May. When racing distance, especially in bigger meets, the pace can be slower, making the runner rely more on strategy during the race. This could bode well for Anderson in terms of scoring for the Pac-12 Championships, but if she wants to qualify for the NCAA West Preliminary Championships, she will need to cut more time this weekend. 

“We need to get a little bit of luck,” Sullivan said. “The luck that I mean is the heat that she’s in, we need it to go fast. If not, she needs to get into the final heat, and that is guaranteed to go fast.”

Senior Taylor Nowlin, 3,000-meter steeplechase: Nowlin’s mark of 10:47.90 has her sitting 12th of all the competitors, but her best time is within seven seconds of six other competitors. Anything can happen in a race like the steeplechase. People can trip because of the water obstacle, making it anyone’s game. She will have a little bit of extra motivation as well, because it could be her last race. Her only possible chance to continue her collegiate track career would be to run 10:35. It’s doable considering she ended last season running 10:36.75, which earned her 11th on the day.

Again we come back to perspective. The likelihood off all the above-mentioned OSU athletes scoring is unlikely. Being on the edge, some will get pushed out by other big performances, and others will put together big marks of their own.

For this reason, they might not score as many points as last season, when Sara Almen was a top performer. 

“Having more people scoring points is more important,” Turney said. “It means that your team has depth to it and we’re all helping out each other.”

OSU finished last at the Pac-12 Championships last season, and the results will likely be similar this year.  

With only two of the 17 women who will be competing at Pac-12s graduating, the coaches are confident looking into the future. 

“Literally two years ago, the only events we had competing at Pac-12s were the 800-meter, 1,500-meter, the steeple, 5,000-meter, 10,000-meter and one young lady in the high jump,” Sullivan said. “Now we got every field event covered.”

Scott McReynolds, sports reporter

On Twitter @scottyknows80

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