Four Bulldogs Headed To SF State Distance Carnival
SPOKANE, Wash. - Gonzaga University men's and women's track teams will have competitors at a pair of venues over the Easter Weekend.
Emily Thomas, Tate Kelly, Colin O'Neil and Robert Walgren will be in San Francisco Friday for the fifth annual SF State Distance Carnival at Cox Stadium on the San Francisco State University campus as more than 50 colleges and universities will be represented in one of the biggest meets on the West Coast. A total of 665 athletes are expected to participate in the meet, which has grown rapidly since its inception in 2008 when the event attracted 100 competitors.
Former Bulldog Pete Cushman (2000-04) is the assistant women's coach at SF State, and Matt Bejar is also assisting with the team.
Thomas, Kelly and O'Neil will run the 10,000 meters, while Walgren will be in the 5000 meters. The women's 10,000 meters is at 8 a.m., the men's 10,000 at 8:45 a.m. and the men's 5000 takes place at 3:56 p.m.
The remainder of the Bulldogs squad will compete in WAR V Saturday at Spokane Falls Community College beginning at 10 a.m.
"Fortunately Emily's a morning person," Gonzaga head coach Pat Tyson quipped. "Her goal is to run fast. A couple of 18 back-to-back (5K's) brought a 36:03 school record. We want to get in the 35's with her tomorrow. If the weather is decent that can be a goal and there is some competition in there."
Thomas ran her school-record 36:03.13 last year at the West Coast Invitational at Willamette University.
Tyson said the goal for Kelly and O'Neil is to get "as deep under 31 as we can. They are hovering at 31 flat, but we want to get deep under 31. A couple of 15's back-to-back is very attainable. They are in the fast heat running at 8:45 a.m.," Tyson said.
Kelly had a 31:06.64 and O'Neil a 31:16.24 at the Buc Scoring Invite earlier this season.
Walgren will be in one of the faster of the four 5000 meter heats on tap.
"He will be in heat three which is the second-fastest heat. In that heat are some WCC guys. There are some athletes in there that are 14:40 type of runners. We want Robert to get under 14:40, but our goal for Robert is to get well under 14:40 and maybe approach 14:30," Tyson said.
Walgren ran a 14:57.52 in the season opener this year at the Dusty Lane Open.
The two events Tyson has his eye on Saturday are the women's 1500 meters and the men's 5000 meters.
"Based on last Saturday where you looked at those 1500 meters it was pretty impressive with Catherine Theobald and all the other ladies are back in town," Tyson said. "Theobald, Alyssa Zuehlsdorff and Megan Batty will be running in the A heat. We want to get as many under 4:50 and touch base with 4:40. Our school record is 4:42.20. It wouldn't surprise me if that record went down. Theobald (Career-best 4:47.24 last weekend) has the speed to make that happen. Zuehlsdorff and Batty are really doing well also."
Tyson also likes the looks of Jordan McCann, who had her first sub-2:20 in the 800 meters last weekend with a 2:19.25.
"How about a school record potentially as our record is 2:16.23," Tyson asked. "She has the potential to do that if the weather is decent."
"On the men's side, for the most part we are featuring the 5000. We did a good job there last year picking up a lot of points for Team Washington. Walker will lead a posse of guys including Brent Felnagle who has run three PR's in the three races he's run this spring off very little training because he has been injured a lot. He is 100 percent healthy and competing himself back into fitness," Tyson said.
Felnagle ran a career-best 15:10.85 at this year's Buc Scoring Invite.
The Bulldogs will once again be without Chris Boyle, who was scheduled to compete last week and was scratched from WAR V on Wednesday of this week.
"He can go on some light runs with little or no pain. But there is something in that groin area and he is just not 100 percent to race and to have a major setback is just not in the best interests," Tyson noted. "We're trying to see if we can get him back for the West Coast Invitational May 12. He's in a holding pattern at this time because of an injury that is hard to define what it is."
Tyson said the next step for the track program to take is to get qualifiers from Regionals.
"Emily Thomas is one who has the potential to qualify for Regionals. As she runs the 10K tomorrow (Friday) morning we'll know what that really means for Regionals. Does that mean she runs a 10K at the West Coast Invitational, kind of a last chance meet because we're not chasing points down there, yes, that might be. We'll also look at her running the 5000 at the Oregon Relays.
"Where is she in the mix being in the top 48 performances so she can compete at Regionals." Tyson inquired more to himself than anybody. "Of all the Gonzaga student-athletes right now, she has the greatest shot at making that reality. Does that mean one of the guys can't pop? We're hoping somebody can make that pop. We're not going to throw it out that there's not a Zag going on to Austin, Texas (site of this year's NCAA Western Regional)."