Utah State Track And Field Sending Record 20 Athletes to NCAA West Regionals
Senior Krista Larson is ranked No. 18 in the nation in the hammer throw.
Senior Krista Larson is ranked No. 18 in the nation in the hammer throw.

May 27, 2009

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LOGAN, Utah - Utah State men and women's track and field teams are sending a school-record 20 athletes to the NCAA West Regional Championships in Eugene, Ore., Friday and Saturday, May 29-30, hosted by the University of Oregon at historic Hayward Field.

USU's 20 athletes is seven more than the 13 that the Aggies sent each of the last two years, after sending 14 in 2006, 19 in 2005, nine in 2004 and 16 in 2003, which was the first year of NCAA Regionals.

"We are ecstatic about having so many athletes heading to Oregon," USU veteran head coach Gregg Gensel said. "We have been working hard in preparing for this meet, and we're anxious for some really good competition."

The Aggies have nine women who qualified including freshman Spela Hus (shot put), freshman Ruth Hilton (3000m steeplechase), sophomore Sonia Grabowska (pole vault), sophomore Heidi Hopkins (400m hurdles), junior Erin Stratton (1500m), junior Ashlee Cannon (100m hurdles), junior Elaine Connolly (800m), senior Krista Larson (hammer throw) and senior Katie Thatcher (400m hurdles).

USU is sending a total of 11 men that posted qualifying marks in freshman Bryce Hall (shot put), sophomore James Allred (800m), sophomore Clint Silcock (high jump), sophomore Chio Lopez (1500m), junior Dylan Nielson (110m hurdles), junior Steve Strickland (3000sc), junior Dusty Ott (javelin), junior Casey Parker (high jump), senior Keith Williams (400m hurdles), senior Nick Karren (400m hurdles) and senior John Strang (decathlon and high jump).

In their last action, the Aggie men won the Western Athletic Conference Championship that was hosted by USU May 13-16. This was the Aggie men's second conference title in three years, while the Utah State women's team took fourth for the second year in a row.

The Aggies have seven returners who participated in the 2008 NCAA West Regionals in Williams, Strickland and Strang for the men, while the women return Thatcher, Stratton, Grabowska and Larson.

Strickland enters the West Regional with the sixth-fastest 3,000m steeplechase time in the NCAA with an 8:42.71, behind five seniors. Strickland is the third-best among West Regional competitors behind Kyle Perry of BYU (8:40.20) at No. 3 in the country and No. 5 Chris Winter of Oregon (8:42.03).

Other USU athletes in the NCAA rankings include Grabowska at No. 11 in pole vault (13-9.75, 4.21m), and Larson at No. 18 in the hammer throw (196-8, 59.95m). Karren is 19th in the 400m hurdles (50.78), Silcock is No. 26 in high jump (7-00.50, 2.15m) and Strang is 33rd in the decathlon (7,180 points).

"We really like our chances for sending some athletes to the NCAA National Championships," Gensel said.

Friday's action starts at 3:40 p.m. (MT) and finishes up at 8:30 p.m., with Saturday's competition starting at 1 p.m. and concluding at 5:50 p.m.

Live results are available through Oregon's web site by clicking on the "Live results" link on UtahStateAggies.com, the official web site of USU Athletics.

The top five in each event automatically advance to the NCAA Championships, Wednesday-Saturday, June 10-13 at Fayetteville, Ark., hosted by the University of Arkansas.




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