Orem, UT -
Utah Valley State track coach Scott Houle expects his team to make great strides in the 2006 season. The second year Wolverine track coach is excited about the season because he has athletes that can compete in every event this year.
-As a team I think we made a step forward,- Houle said. -Last year we were really good in what we had but we also had nothing in some events. We had to go and fill those spots and strengthen the whole team.-
Here is a closer look at the Wolverine track team.
Mark Lott, Michael Vick, Peter Holm and Joe Bendoski lead a solid group of distance runners. Last year Lott set a school record in the 3000-meter steeplechase while Bendoski set indoor records of 4:12.52 in the mile, 8:24.78 in the 3,000-meter race. He also set an outdoor school record of 15:11.29 in the 5,000m.
Houle also expects freshmen Spencer Evensen, Tim Rowberry and Jacob Buhler to run well in the distance events.
Chris Fogt and Brandon Lovell are expected to do big things for the Wolverines in the sprints. Lovell, a transfer from Utah State, will run the 100, 200 and 400 meter races along with the relay events.
-He-ll give us a good range of events he can compete in,- Houle said.
Houle added that Fogt has really improved and should be competitive in the finals in each meet he competes in.
In the field events Gavin Shaw, who holds the school record in the Hammer Throw at 202-02-- is back for his junior season. In the high jump Clifton Palmer has been stuck at six feet eight inches but Houle says he is ready to get past that mark this year.
After redshirting last year, Mariama Salifu is back for her sophomore year in the sprints. Salifu already holds indoor school records of 6.94 seconds in the 55m and 7.60 seconds in the 60m. She holds school marks in the 100m (11.78) and 200m (24.26).
-It is nice to see how fast she goes around the oval,- Houle said. -She is so fast. If we can keep her healthy she-ll be real competitive for us this year.-
Houle expects Tawny Judkins, Nicole Olson, Whitney Peck and Kari Snow to anchor what will be a strong sprint team.
Peck, Olson and Tiera Zaugg will also be strong in the 400m event.
-This is a good core of girls that will really help us out,- Houle said.
For the first time Houle is going to have throwers on his team. Kelley Thompson, Marianne King, Kayleen Coop, Sarah McOmber, Becky Phillips, and Megan Butler will all participate in weight, hammer and discus throws.
On the distance side, Karinne Bentley, Bekah Poppinga and Kirsten Barney should have solid seasons.
In other events Mandi Witherspoon, Brittany Larson and Stacy Edelen will compete in the high jump while Leesa Henderson and Jessica Lippert participate in the pole vault.
-Witherspoon is making big steps for us,- Houle said. -Marianne King never threw in high school but she has already been very competitive.-
The Wolverines hope to make good use of the indoor meets in preparation for the outdoor season. The meet with the top competition is the Mountain States Games, hosted by Idaho State. Schools from around the state of Utah, Idaho and other schools around the west will participate in the meet.
-That will be the best competition we face,- Houle said. -We hope the indoor season is a good springboard into our outdoor competition.-
In outdoor competition, the Wolverines compete in several meets at BYU along with the Mt. Sac Relays and the Pomona Invitational in California. The programs- final meet will be in Greeley, Colorado at the Independent Championships.