Track prepares for MPSF indoor championships
The Trojan track and field teams will be heading to Seattle, Washington, this weekend to compete in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Indoor Track and Field Championships. The women’s team will seek to hold onto their title for the third year in a row, while the men’s team will attempt to dethrone Oregon, who narrowly beat them last year.
The MPSF ITFC is a competition created in 1992 and designed for Division I West Coast schools. This year, 14 men’s teams and 19 women’s teams will be in attendance. Though the Trojan men’s team is looking solid, as they are currently ranked ninth in the nation by the USTFCCA NCAA Division I National Team Computer Rankings, they will have to be wary of strong competition from Oregon’s squad, which is ranked second on that list, and Washington’s, which is ranked twelfth. Meanwhile, the No. 10 Women of Troy will have to battle Oregon’s first-ranked roster and Washington’s seventeenth-ranked team.
Though the women of Troy aren’t number one in the nation, junor sprinter Destinee Brown is still convinced that she and her teammates have targets on their backs. Brown said she is willing to do whatever it takes to earn the victory.
“I feel like we’re definitely the team to beat,” Brown said. “[Personal records] are great, but I would rather win than PR. But if I have to PR to win, then that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Coach Caryl Smith Gilbert echoes the sentiment. Though most teams facing SC this weekend are not ranked, she acknowledges that competition will still be tough.
“At the end of the day, the ranking doesn’t matter,” Gilbert said. “It’s about what you do on the day. There are a lot great teams and a lot of great competitors in the conference that want to make sure to give us a run for our money.”
The men’s squad will make their second-ever appearance at the indoor event, and their good performances so far this season suggest that it will be a strong one. Most notably, two weeks ago, in the Tyson Invitational men’s triple jump event, junior Eric Sloan set a personal record (55ft, 10.50in) to win the competition and claim the farthest jump by a college athlete this season. Sophomore Randall Cunningham placed fourth in the high jump (7ft, 3.25in) at the Tyson long jump event.
The women’s lineup is also looking very competitive. USC currently holds the MPSF ITFC women’s 1600m relay record (3:33.58), which was set last year. It may be beaten, as the quartet of sophomore Kendall Ellis, junior Amalie Iuel, senior Jaide Stepter and Brown set a school record (3:28.82) at the 2016 Tyson invitational in the women’s 1600m relay. Also at the 2016 Tyson invitational, Iuel set personal records in the women’s 400m (52.52) and in the women’s 60m HH (8.504). The same day, Katerina Berdousi placed second overall with a PR of 4:57:43 in the women’s 1600m, and Rebekah Ent posted a PR of 2:12:91 in the women’s 800m to place seventh overall.
Following the MPSF ITFC, the Trojan track and field athletes can look forward to closing out the indoor season with the NCAA Indoor Championships in Birmingham, Alabama, in early March.