SEATTLE, Wash. - The University of Colorado track and field team put together many strong performances Friday at the first day of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Championships. The men are in fifth place with 20 points, while the women are in ninth with 14 points.
"After the first day, I think we are a little better for both men and women than I hoped for us to be," head coach Mark Wetmore said. "I think we did very well in the heptathlon, we ended up fifth and sixth, with Drianna (Mustin) just right on the outside of helping. So, that was great to start with a handful of points and they had some really good individual performances. I believe they all threw the shot put the best they have ever as a group."
The Buffs earned points in many events and advanced individuals to final heats on Saturday.
What happened — Buffs with points
Ryan Forsyth earned eight points for the Buffs finishing second in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 13:51.54. This time is a new personal record (PR) for the senior whose previous time of 13:56.07 from the Husky Classic was previously the eighth best time in the conference. His time of 13:51.54 currently sits as one of the top-25 times in the country. Also, earning points for the Buffs in the 5,000 meters was Ethan Gonzales as he finished seventh with a time of 14:02.51.
"Second place for Ryan, getting eight points for the team and running the fastest he's ever run... that might be the highlight of the day," Wetmore said. "That is the speech I give him the night before. This is money time. This is not a time trial or a vacation. You are here to score points, and he did. Ethan behind him got us a couple of points in seventh."
A duo of Buffs earned solid points in the men's 200 meters with Duane McClurkin Jr. and Jon Maas finishing in the top eight. McClurkin Jr. finished fourth with a time of 21.74 to earn five points. Freshman Jon Maas crossed the finish line in 21.82 seconds to place sixth earning three points for the Buffs.
"Very nice points with the men's 200 meters. Duane ran very well after an absence away from the team. So really good for Duane and freshman Jon."
On the women's side, Eriana Henderson finished in eighth place in the women's long jump to earn a point for the Buffs. Henderson landed a mark of 19-00.75/5.67. The women's DMR relay added six points with a third-place finish. The team of Karina Mann, Tashay Brown, Elissa Mann and Oliva Brooks clocked an 11:21.90 time.
"Another highlight of the day was the women's DMR relay," coach Wetmore said. "This was not our A-team but it was our B-plus team. Our freshman anchor at the end ran down a couple of people to get third. I was hoping for fifth or sixth, so they ran faster than I thought and earned more points than I expected, which was great."
Junior Maja Wichhart-Donzo finished the day with a career high finish in the pentathlon after recording a PR 3,806 total points. She finished fifth overall to earn four points towards the Buff's team score. She started off the day clocking a 8.87 in the 60-meter hurdles. Wichhart-Donzo went on to clear a 5-3.75/1.62 in the high jump. She finished sixth in the shot put tossing a PR mark of 36-10.5/11.24 and then jumped a 17-8.25/5.39 in the long jump. She wrapped up action by running a strong 800-meter time, finishing third with a PR 2:19.09 time.
Her teammates, senior Michaela Wenning and sophomore Drianna Mustin placed sixth and ninth, respectively. Wenning earned the Buffs three points with PR total point total of 3,752.
Senior Andrew Ghizzone sits in second for the men's heptathlon at the end of the first day with 2,868 total points. He finished in the top five of every event on the day including a second-place finish in the long jump earning a 22-9.75/6.95 mark and 802 points. Ghizzone currently owns the best heptathlon score in the MPSF and will look to win his first conference indoor title Saturday. Teammate Davis Butte is in seventh place with a total point score of 2,395.
"Andrew is in good position after the first day," Wetmore said. "The first day isn't his best day, the second day is. He has a good chance to win this thing and Davis is going to earn us some points no matter what sitting in seventh out of seven."
Advancing to finals
The Buffs advanced two individuals to the 60-meter hurdles with Valerie Welch for the women and Alexander Billing for the men. Freshman Valerie Welch clocked an impressive PR time of 8.49 to finish sixth overall and advance to the finals heat on Saturday. Welch's time of 8.49 is the fifth fastest performance by a Buff in CU history with the latest previous time coming in 2004 when Deneeka Torrey clocked an 8.42 time.
Alexander Billing also advanced on the men's side crossing the finish line in 8.12 seconds to finish seventh overall. The finals for both the men's and women's 60-meter hurdles will be at 12:45 and 12:50 pm MT.
"Alex was on the form chart to make finals, but it is hard," coach Wetmore said. "It is a great federation, it's deep. He is really maturing; he came here and took care of business and real grown up. And Valerie also making the finals, running fast and going to get us some points tomorrow. We are set up nicely tomorrow."
The first event Saturday takes off at 11:30 a.m., with the men's heptathlon 60-meter hurdles, before the men's 4 X 400 meter relay will end this year's championship meet at 3:50 p.m.