Track and Field team races out to great start

Coming off the 2009 season that qualified 10 athletes for the NCAA, it seemed that the Seawolf Track and Field team would continue to improve this season.

However, after their first two weeks of competition, the word “improve” just doesn’t do the Seawolves justice.

Perhaps Head Coach Michael Friess can give better perspective.

“We have a very good team at an elite level,” Freiss said about his team’s fantastic start.

Elite. Yes, that word should sum it up pretty well.

This week, the Seawolves will try to keep up their scorching start when they head to Oregon for the Willamette Invitational. The competition will be held April 2-3 in Salem and will be another good opportunity for the ‘Wolves to keep improving their season bests.

So far, the Seawolves have posted 18 NCAA provisional marks – nine marks for both the women and men’s teams, to be exact.

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There has been no shortage of great individual displays to start the 2010 season.

For instance, freshman Ethan Hewitt had a GNAC and UAA record setting win of 47.62 seconds in the 400m back on March 5 in Las Vegas.

Also, sophome Miram Kipngeno (16:59.24) and sophomore Ruth Keino (17:00.03) finished first and second in the women’s 5000m event at the Occidental Distance Carnival on March 12.

Can’t forget about junior Demietrius Preston and his first place in the long jump competition, 24-6.09 feet, at the Northridge Invite March 12.

Clearly, this is a team that is chalked full of athletes who have already given strong performances in the young season. It is hard to really put one athlete’s season ahead of another, but Friess was quick to name off one that had stood out him personally.

“Alfred Kangogo has really stepped forward,” Friess said without hesitation. “He has nationally provisionally qualified for three events (already).”

Kangogo, who may have the best track and field last name in Seawolf history, has already improved his tremendous freshman year. In 2009, he was named the GNAC’s Male Freshman of the Year award after qualifying for the NCAA’s in the 1,500 meters race.

So how does he top that this season? Simple, he goes out and surpasses his career bests in the 800m, 1500m and 5000m and receives provisional marks in all three events.

“He’s always, obviously, been good, but this season, he’s gone to another level,” Friess said.

This series of team success comes in the wake of losing two All-Americans from last year’s squad. 2008 Long Jump National Champion David Registe, junior, was forced to redshirt this season due to injury. By redshirting, he keeps another year of athletic eligibility and will be able to return for his senior year.

Also, junior Shaun Ward remains out with an injury and it is undetermined if he will return to action this season or be forced to sit out as well.

Despite the two key loses, other ‘Wolves have stepped up and made their own marks on the completions this year. Having accomplished so much in such a small amount of time leaves no doubt about the Seawolf Track and Field team potential.

The future looks very bright for a UAA program that is solid on the both women’s and men’s sides.

Now as to whether we should have expected it or been surprised about their start, that’s another story in itself.

“We had a pretty good suspicion,” Friess said.