Track team pleased despite fourth place finish

By Whitney O’Bannon, Staff Writer

Two points were all that kept the Utah track and field team out of third place in the Mountain West Conference Championships this weekend.

However, the Utes are not disappointed with their place.

“When you know that you are that close, it’s kind of disappointing when you think of all the “what-ifs,'” said senior Chelsea Shapard. “But we are getting so much better as a team and really making a name for ourselves. We need to be happy with our fourth-place finish and know that we came that close.”

Utah battled with Colorado State on Saturday and eventually finished just behind it. The team was pleased to end in the upper half of the conference and improve three places from its No. 7 standing last year.

“What we did was impressive,” said head coach Kyle Kepler. “Our kids gave it everything they had, it was not a lack of effort. We had great performances all weekend long, but Friday was probably the best conference weekday we’ve had since I have been here as a coach.”

On Friday, the weight throwers started the day off with impressive throws as Josefin Berg earned second place with a 57-foot-9.75-inch toss, and Sarah Grimm had a fourth place throw of 57 feet 3.7 inches.

Then the runners took stage and the 400-meter, 800-meter and 5,000-meter races gave Utah a bit of an edge for the day.

Lauren Endersen led the pack for most of the 5,000-meter race but in the last seconds was passed by BYU’s Cecily Lemmon. She earned second place with a time of 18 minutes 28.04 seconds and Kellie Anderson was sixth, clocking in at 18 minutes 47.96 seconds.

Two Utes, Shapard and Lucy Yates, flourished on the track as they both qualified to compete in the finals of the 800-meter on Saturday.

In the 400-meter, Chelsey Kaplar also qualified for the finals. Saturday was riddled with mistakes, however. Three different runners tripped or fell in their races, which was disheartening to the whole team.

“We had some unfortunate breaks, but they all survived and they all came back and were able to score or place,” Kepler said. “If those things don’t happen, it might be a different story. But I look back at that and it was no one’s fault; it was just how the conference meet is. I am just happy they fought through it and got up.”

In the finals of the 800-meter, despite both Utes tripping, Shapard finished in third with 2:11.82 and Yates in seventh with 2:15.85.

Even with this setback, Shapard was able to come back and run the last leg of the 4×400 relay to beat BYU and finish second overall with a time of 3:49.22.

Enderson had a solid 5,000-meter. In her 3,000-meter race, however, she was tripped up as well.

“It’s disappointing, but it happens to everyone,” Enderson said. “You just have to get back up and keep going, try to get as many places back as you can.”

The Utes were pleased with the conclusion of their season and the improvement on last year’s place in the championships but were more excited about starting the outdoor season.

“The season went by so fast, I don’t even remember the beginning of the season,” Shapard said. “I’m much better mentally now and I like outdoor a lot better. I think I finished off well for setting me up for outdoor.”

The Utes plan to rest up for a long outdoor season ahead of them and beginning training for that in the next few days.

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