CHADRON – The Chadron State College men’s and women’s track and field will have a major test early this coming week at the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Meet hosted by Western State College at Gunnison, Colo.
If some of the team’s most talented members remain healthy, the Eagles are expected to fly high.
Some of the members of the men’s team are already doing that. Dean Francis, who missed the finals at the RMAC Indoor Meet with a leg problem, has chalked up three victories in the 200 meters during the outdoor campaign and will take the fastest time in the conference, a 21.31, to the RMAC Meet.
Francis is one of three CSC men who have the top marks in the conference entering the meet. The others are Cody Hunt, who has won 11 of 13 competitions indoors and outdoors in the shot put (59-11), and Lincoln Proud in the 400 hurdles (53.87).
Hunt also ranks second in the discus at 166-7 and teammate Charith Kapukotuwa is third at 165-6.
Steven Richendifer, who won the pole vault at the RMAC Indoor Meet by going 15-1, is second in that event entering the outdoor meet at 14-9 ½.
Coach Ryan Baily said he is hopeful the team gets healthy at the right time. The athletes in question include sprinters Alex Graham and Phil Rivera and jumper Lanar Newman. All three are proven standouts when they are healthy, but each has seen limited action this spring.
“These guys have been doing lots of (swimming) pool workouts and seem to be coming around,” Baily said. “We’ve been cautious with them, trying to have them ready for the conference meet.”
If Graham, Rivera and Francis are all healthy, Baily thinks the Eagles will have a good shot of running the 4x100-meter relay in 40.18 seconds and automatically qualify for the national meet. CSC has won the relay at the conference meet each of the last two years with times of 41.35 and 41.10 seconds.
In the women’s action, the Eagles will be led by sophomore Jazmyn Webster, who ranks second in the conference in the high jump with her school-record leap of 5-9 ¾ and third in the long jump at 18-10 ½. Her high jump is also second in the nation and automatically qualifies her for nationals. The long jump mark is also expected to also earn a national ticket.
The CSC women, who have remained healthy this season, should also do well in the throws. Alyssa Norton is the defending champion in the discus and ranks second in that event going to Gunnison with her school-record mark of 157-9 that she hit at South Dakota Mines in mid-April.
Also, Kaelie Jelden is third in the vault standings after setting the school record of 11-9 ¼ last weekend.
On the track, Chadron native Ashley Riesen has the third best time in the 1600 (4:34.92) and the fourth best in the 800 (2:15.55).
Baily is also hoping the senior Stacee Craig “can put everything to together” and qualify for nationals in the heptathlon. She’ll enter the conference meet with 4,589 points to her credit, good for third place on the RMAC list, but will probably need a couple hundred more to receive a national bid.
Craig was second in the event at last year’s conference meet with 4,649 points.
Craig will help open the meet on Sunday, when the multis will start. The meet will run through early Tuesday afternoon.
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