BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – The Roadrunner men's and women's track and field teams are headed to Edinburg, Texas, May 10-13, for the 2017 Western Athletic Conference Outdoor Championships with the opportunity to make history. CSU Bakersfield's squads are looking to close out an extremely successful season with several All-Conference honors and multiple individual WAC Champions.
“We will be lining up one of our most competitive men's teams since joining the WAC,” said Marcia Mansur-Wentworth, CSUB's Director of Track and Field. “The women are looking to improve this season. Our ladies have not had more than four All-WAC performers in one championship to date and we look to surpass that this year.”
Since the ‘Runners joined the WAC in 2013-14, CSUB has produced a total of three individual WAC Champions: Bryan Wilmert (Hammer throw, 2014 and 2015) and Karnell Grimes (Javelin, 2015). With multiple ‘Runners sitting at or near the top of the WAC rankings this season, CSUB is in strong position to produce its first female champion and possibly its first WAC meet with both a male and female student-athlete taking home a title.
The men's squad is led by a strong jump contingent in sophomore Tim Van Horn, junior Joselito Flores, and senior Justin McKinley. The trio is currently sitting 1-2-3 in the high jump in the WAC while McKinley is ranked third in the long jump as well. Van Horn and Flores also are in contention to take CSUB back to the NCAA West Regional later this month.
The women's squads best chance at a WAC titles lies in freshman Julianne Finch, who will enter the meet with the top seed in the pole vault after resetting the CSUB record this spring. Finch is looking for her first WAC podium finish after missing the mark at WAC Indoors.
Redshirt sophomore Gabe Gaeta is ranked second in the WAC 400m Hurdles and will also run both relays. “Gabe has been very consistent in his racing this season,” Mansur-Wentworth said. “He was a finalist in the 400m Hurdles last year and has his sights set on making the podium this year.”
A pair of ‘Runner veterans looking to take spots on the podium for CSUB's women will be junior Angel Valdez and redshirt senior Marina Emhoff. “Angel is looking to add an All-WAC track honor to her fall cross country honor,” stated Mansur-Wentworth. “She will run the 10000m. Marina has earned three All-WAC 400m honors so far and has a strong record of competing well at the Championships.”
A pair of CSUB freshmen are ranked third in their respective events in the WAC: Curt Threlkeld and Nick Zandes. Mansur-Wentworth expressed confidence in both men to put up solid performances in Texas: “Curtis is having a great freshman season and is ranked third in the 800m and sixth in the 400m, but will only race the 800m and 4 x 400m at the Championships. Nick is looking for his first All-WAC medal in the decathlon."
Junior Alec Benavides is ranked fourth in the javelin and is in the hunt for his second All-WAC honor. Redshirt senior Emmett Wirtz earned All-WAC in the hammer throw last year and has moved his pre-WAC rank up to third this season. Rounding out the top ‘Runner men will be Tristan Watson, who is looking for his first WAC 110m Hurdles final after a breakout season.
A pair of veteran ‘Runner women are in great position to earn All-WAC honors as well. Junior Micaiah Lugo has shown great improvement in the hammer throw and is ranked sixth going into her first WAC Championships. Fellow junior Susannah Vera will compete in the high jump, an event she has twice finished seventh at WAC, just one spot outside of All-WAC honors. Vera will also compete in a couple of new events for her this spring: 400m hurdles and triple jump.
Freshmen Falon Wilson and Mariah LeSure will represent the ‘Runner women in the sprints this week. Wilson is seeded seventh in the long jump and has a shot to make finals in the 100m and 100m hurdles, where she is ranked just off the Top 8 in both events. LeSure has just crushed a pair of personal bests in the 100m and 200m dashes and will take the events on at the WAC.
The WAC Championship will open on Wednesday and Thursday, May 10-11, with Zandes competing in the decathlon. The rest of the ‘Runners will join the competition Friday and Saturday with two full days of track and field action in Edinburg, Texas. Live stats for the meet will be available here.