Three track athletes compete at nationals

The U outdoor track team concluded a milestone-setting spring season last weekend when three Ute athletes attended the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Austin, Texas.

While the ultimate results for the three outstanding student-athletes were not very good, the fact that the U had three athletes attend the NCAA nationals was an accomplishment in and of itself. The U has never had the funding to garner a dominant track program, but under the influence of head coach Lisa Archer, the Utes are making rapid progress toward being a perennial contender.

Last year, the Utes sent only one athlete to the NCAA final event. This year the Utes sent three, and the possibilities for next year seem to be quite good with several top-tier athletes returning for next season.

Sophomore Vanessa Mortensen was the top performer for the U at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. As a competitor in the hammer throw, Mortensen was tied for 23rd in the country coming into the meet, but she managed to put together three solid throws in her first heat, which landed her in 14th place overall. Unfortunately, only the top 12 continued to the finals, leaving Mortensen on the sidelines. Still, her improvement from 23rd to 14th is promising, especially considering that Mortensen will be a Ute for at least another year.

Senior standout Nellie Hammons concluded an amazing career as a U distance runner with a disappointing time of 2 minutes, 10.09 seconds in the 800 meters. Hammons, who ran almost every 800-meter race, both indoor and outdoor, at faster times than her NCAA time, finished 23rd out of 28 and failed to qualify for the finals. Hammons will be remembered for her complete dominance of the 800-meter run and the innumerable records she set in that event.

Junior Delfino Arevalo was the final Ute to compete at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Arevalo qualified for the NCAA final event in the 10,000-meter run with a top-20 time earlier in the season, but he failed to come close to that time last week in Texas. In fact, Arevalo’s finishing time of 32 minutes, 15.06 seconds was more than three minutes slower than his qualifying time of 29 minutes, 6.6 seconds. Arevalo finished 24th out of 26 contenders.

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