Gardner, Hassan Key Rams Taking Lead MW Track & Field
CLOVIS, Calif. – Championships by Autumn Garnder in the high jump and Mostafa Hassan in the shot put sent Colorado State to the top in both the men's and women's sides at the Mountain West Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Entering Saturday's final competition, CSU women have 51 points, giving them a 15-point edge on second-place Utah State, and the men have totaled 80.5 points, a 17.5-point lead on second place Air Forced.
"We're ahead of projections on both sides, which is good, but there's so much that can happen between now and the end of the meet," said CSU coach Brian Bedard. "So, we really try not to pay too much attention to points at this point.
"What I do like is that we have a chance and that we've got a good opportunity in front of us. Our team can feel that. What I'm most proud of right now is our competitive attitude, focus and togetherness and how our team is supporting each other throughout this meet. That's part of our identity, and that's what do as Rams."
Gardner entered the meet as the Mountain West high jump leader by virtue of her 6-0.5 (1.84m) personal best, and topped six feet (1.83m) again to emerge as the Rams' first outdoor conference champion in the event since 2012. McKenzie Wright joined her fellow senior on the podium, claiming third place after jumping 5-9.75 (1.77m).
Gardner joined Georgia's Tatiana Gusin and Texas Tech's Zarriea Willis as the only athletes in the nation this outdoor season with multiple marks of six feet or better in the women's high jump.
Hassan, who battled injuries in the spring, won his third straight outdoor conference shot put title in what was his 2018 outdoor debut. The Cairo, Egypt native won the event by less than three innings with a winning throw of 61-5 (18.72m) on his fourth attempt of the day.
"He's coming back from an injury, and he's probably about 75 or 80 percent right now," said Bedard. "I saw good focus from him today, and he did what he needed to do for the team. He's a team guy, and I respect that about him. Hopefully we can continue to progress through the NCAA first round and championships. He's made good progress so far. He was a little bit conservative today, and that's understandable given his situation."
Hassan, who won three MW indoor shot put titles as well, is the first athlete to win a combined six MW shot put titles.
Austin Blaho repeated his indoor conference finish of third place with a throw of 57-5.75 (17.52m), while brother Alex Blaho took fourth with a mark of 54-8 (16.66m).
Four CSU athletes combined for 19 points in the women's hammer. Junior Kelcey Bedard was second with a personal-best mark of 208-7 (63.57m), and Junior Linnea Jonsson joined her on the podium with a third-place finish (199-6/60.81m). Aimee Larrabee placed fifth (190-4/58.02m) and Maria Muzzio took eighth (178-4/54.35m).
Bailey King placed third in the men's hammer with a mark of 182-6 (55.64m). Alex Blaho also scored in the event with an eighth-place finish (173-9/52.95m). Rounding out top throwing efforts was Muzzio's fifth-place finish and throw of 50-2.75 (15.21m) in the women's shot put.
Three Rams scored for the men's team in the long jump, led by a second-place finish and mark of 24-4.25/7.42m (w: 3.8 m/s) by freshman Isa Bynum. Ayo Sanusi scored for CSU with a fifth-place finish and mark of 23-6/7.16m, while Dalten Fox claimed a sixth-place finish (23-1.25/7.04m). Rounding out scorers on the men's side is Hayden Williams, who cleared 15-3 (4.65m) in the pole vault to tie for fifth place and score 3.5 points.
The lone final on the track on Friday was the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase, which featured a fifth-place finish from Sanne Holland and a seventh-place finish by Ali Kallner. Holland finished the race in 10:23.74, while Kallner clocked a personal-best time of 10:33.86. Kallner's time, which was nearly 10 seconds better than her previous best, ranks eighth in program history.
Freshman Jasmine Chesson notched a first-place finish in qualifying for CSU, topping all would-be qualifiers in the women's 400 meters with a time of 54.35. Another notable performance on the track came from fellow freshman Destinee Rocker, who clocked a personal-best time of 13.33 in the 100-meter hurdles to place third and qualify for the final. With her performance, Rocker broke her own CSU freshman record, and improved upon the No. 2 time in program history. Freshman Annemarie Carlson also placed in the top three in preliminaries, qualifying in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:00.89. A fourth freshman, Jessica Ozoude, qualified in the sprints with a time of 23.34 (w:2.4 m/s) in the 200.
On the men's side, the Rams qualified three athletes in the 200 meters, including Ronald Sayles (21.36), Nathan Gish (21.50, 17th in CSU history) and Will Domier(21.71). Gish and Domier also advanced to finals in the 100 meters, clocking preliminary times of 10.61 (w: 4.4 m/s) and 10.72 (w: 6.0 m/s), respectively. Multiple Rams also reached finals in the 110-meter hurdles, as senior Jalen Hunter (14.65) placed second in preliminaries and fellow senior Garrett Lane (15.00) took fourth. Rounding out men's qualifiers in the sprints for CSU was freshman Caleb Hardy, who took sixth place in 400 meters preliminaries with a time of 48.87.
In 1,500 meters qualifying, Rams on each of the women's and men's sides reached Saturday's finals. Dominique Ward clocked a time of 4:38.41 to qualify for the women, while Cole Rockhold qualified for the men with a time of 3:54.76. Roxy Trotter advanced for the Rams in the middle distance group, placing second in her heat and sixth overall with a time of 2:13.40 in the women's 800 meters.